|Barbara Tuchman author of 'The Guns of August' winner of 1963 Pulitzer Prize|
While The Den will be introducing great women over the coming weeks who are currently fighting the good fight, I thought it most appropriate to honor the late Barbara Tuchman today. With Russian tanks and troops rolling into the Ukraine, the Islamic State broadcasting mass executions and vowing to bring mass bloodshed to the West, Israel and Palestine currently in a sharp uptick of their perpetual hostilities, China starting to aggressively assert itself militarily that alarms it's neighbors and the US, and of course North Korea, the failed state run by a lunatic, with nuclear weapons...it seemed only appropriate to reflect back exactly a century to August 1914 when an assassination of a relatively minor figure (Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria) in Sarajevo a few weeks prior (June 28, 1914) set the world ablaze and it's aftermath is still being dealt with 100 years later as the redrawing of the maps of Central & Eastern Europe and the Middle East virtually guaranteed another world war and perpetual conflict between Muslims of different sects and tribes in the region and also Muslims and the West.
Barbara Tuchman's book The Guns of August was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for 1963. It is a beautifully written work of popular history that has sold millions of copies and will never go out of print. While professional historians give her very high marks on literary quality, they take issue with some of the finer points that she either didn't address or didn't present in proper context yet they still say she got most of the main points right from a macro level. I have recently finished Catastrophe 1914 by Sir Max Hastings that gives a more in depth look into the causes of the Great War (WWI) and he praises Barbara Tuchman lavishly in the introduction as having a profound influence on him becoming a historian and studying the causes of WWI. President John F. Kennedy was a huge fan and cited 'The Guns...' as giving him more caution during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 when the US & Soviet Union were on the brink of nuclear war.
Barbara Tuchman is a woman we can all be inspired by. She didn't let being a woman in a field dominated by men dissuade her, nor did she let her lack of academic credentials (she only had a Bachelor of Arts degree) give her pause, and The Guns of August was her first book which she published when she was 50 years old. She won a 2nd Pulitzer for her biography on General Joseph Sitwell.