Up The Lane

This morning I finished reading the justifiably Pulitzer Prize- (for Non-Fiction, 1963) winning work ‘The Guns of August’ (1962) by Barbara W. Tuchman. With painstaking research, shrewd judgement, and skilful prose, the author analyses and describes the first month of the First World War. We are so accustomed to books and films about the madness of the four years’ destructive trench warfare that I found Ms. Tuchman’s tour de force most informative.

I knew the war had been sparked off by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, but had no idea why such a conflagration had followed. This book explains the reason and the method.

Germany had been preparing for war on both Eastern and Western fronts for two decades. It was simply accidental that the blue touch paper was lit in the east.

We learn of the desecration of the Belgian neutrality, the courage of its population; the invaders’ belief in the spread of fear as a method of quelling resistance, and their means of exercising it; the speed of the German advance; the infighting within and between the leaders of the allies.

Tuchman closes with an eye to the following four years. I would have welcomed such a work on them.

The details of manoeuvres would probably be more fascinating to serious students of military history than to me, for I found the passages of descriptive writing rather more to my liking.

My Folio Society edition contains copious notes, clear maps, and two batches of photographs which are not really of good enough quality to reproduce here.

On another comparatively mild afternoon we visited Elizabeth and invited her to dinner, which she accepted with alacrity.

We returned home via South Baddesley from where we could view the Isle of Wight in the distance,

and autumn scenes in the fields.

Beside the unnamed lane down which I walked lay moss covered fallen branches.

Gradually a jogger came into view running up the lane. Soon after he passed Jackie’s parked Modus, my Chauffeuse followed me down and picked me up.

As we neared Lymington I photographed a silhouetted tree line.

This evening we dined on succulent roast gammon; creamy mashed potato; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; and tender green beans, with which Elizabeth and I drank Chevalier de Fauvert ComtΓ© Tolosan Rouge 2019, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.


  1. β€˜The Guns of August’ sounds like a very informative read. I have sometimes wondered how a war could start with the assassination of the duke in Sarajevo….I suppose I could take some time to educate myself on that as you have. I like your unnamed country lane photos- an invitation to proceed further.

  2. Folio society books are very special. I hope beautiful books will always be treasured; no matter how ‘high tech’ we become.
    The black and white silhouette of trees does look ominous – beautifully so; in a much starker way than the rusty autumnal coloured line of trees in your photo above the thickly mossed branches. I think both are equally lovely.

    1. Thank you very much, Emma. I stopped my Folio membership after 50 years simply because I have so many books still to read – I have featured many on this blog, and there will be more to come.

  3. I am familiar with the book’s title, but you have piqued my interest in reading it, especially during these interesting times in which we now all live.
    I enjoyed all the photos from your day. πŸ™‚

        1. That must have been really tough to wade through. There are just two books I have given up on – Finnegan’s Wake and Le Morte d’Arthur. Each after c200 pages.

  4. That’s one of my husband’s favourite books. Years ago I attempted “A Distant Mirror” but failed. Barbara Tuchman has a Dickensian approach to history that I find quite daunting.

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about The Guns of August – I haven’t read it, but I recently read another WWI book, All Quiet on the Western Front. which I bet you have read. And I agree with Jill – I love that tunnel of trees!

  6. The Guns of August sounds enlightening on the complexities we often are unaware of. (like the complexities of nature shown in your mossy branches.) It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve become more interested in military history. Reading my father’s letters from Vietnam has greatly changed my perspective, along with age.

  7. No wonder Elizabeth quickly accepted that invitation. As for the book…yes, interesting to read about the backstory, what led up to the war. Often, wars are not inevitable, until they are.

  8. I am more interested in the social side of military history – although also enjoy hearing about the actual events – and have in the past provided a variation on the theme of battles etc by presenting talks to our Military History Society on topics such as the First World War seen from the perspective of poets; different food with connections to military historical figures or events; and a year or so ago looked at the use of horses here during the Anglo-Boer War. Recent interesting non-fiction books I have read include “Jambusters: the story of the Women’s Institute in the Second World War” by Julie Summers and “Lumberjills: Britain’s forgotten army” by Joanna Foat – both are fascinating reading.

  9. That sounds a fascinating book. At present I am listening to War and Peace and reading The Indian Empire at War by George Morton Jack. Both are fascinating but I keep thinking about the futility of war and the dying of so many. So, in between I read something lighter. I liked books by Robing Pilcher and Luanna Rice. Nice photos.

  10. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was an amazing set of coincidences that brought assassin and victim together for just seconds.Two shots, two kills.
    I knew that….but I didn’t know the registration number of AF’s car which was A 11 11 18
    The whole story is here…
    All things considered, we were a little unlucky to get a World War out of his visit to Sarajevo!

  11. I am sure to pick up ‘Guns of August’ sometime soon, perhaps when I begin travelling again after the pandemic. That’s a very alluring lane Jackie has chosen to park her chariot in, the jogger fits well in the picture supplying human interest.

  12. OOH! I like when you do book reviews! Sounds like a most interesting, important book! I have a friend who is super into anything related to WWI. I’ll have to ask him if he’s read this book.
    Love the landscape photos…the mossy photo…and the jogger emerging from the beautiful trees-holding-hands-across-the-road canopy! πŸ™‚
    So glad you had a lovely dinner with two beautiful ladies! πŸ™‚ Lucky you! πŸ™‚
    (((HUGS))) πŸ™‚

  13. Sounds like a book I should be reading. I know so little of the details of history. I was always more interested in science, biology, and literature, but now I see the gaps in my education. Luckily we have books like this to remedy the missing parts. Thanks for the recommendation. Lovely photos, as usual.

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