Catastrophe (Enhanced Edition) by Max Hastings

Catastrophe (Enhanced Edition)

By Max Hastings

  • Release Date: 2013-09-12
  • Genre: Military
Score: 4
From 16 Ratings
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The special interactive edition of Max Hastings’ magisterial chronicle of Europe’s calamity in 1914: including interactive maps, timelines and video. Move from map to text at any point to explore the position of armies. Search the interactive timeline for the ultimate overview of the beginning of World War I. Hear an exclusive author interview.

In 1914, Europe plunged into the 20th century’s first terrible act of self-immolation- what was then called The Great War. On the eve of its centenary, Max Hastings seeks to explain both how the conflict came about and what befell millions of men and women during the first months of strife.

He finds the evidence overwhelming, that Austria and Germany must accept principal blame for the outbreak. While what followed was a vast tragedy, he argues passionately against the ‘poets’ view’, that the war was not worth winning. It was vital to the freedom of Europe, he says, that the Kaiser’s Germany should be defeated.

His narrative of the early battles will astonish those whose images of the war are simply of mud, wire, trenches and steel helmets. Hastings describes how the French Army marched into action amid virgin rural landscapes, in uniforms of red and blue, led by mounted officers, with flags flying and bands playing. The bloodiest day of the entire Western war fell on 22 August 1914, when the French lost 27,000 dead. Four days later, at Le Cateau the British fought an extraordinary action against the oncoming Germans, one of the last of its kind in history. In October, at terrible cost they held the allied line against massive German assaults in the first battle of Ypres.

The author also describes the brutal struggles in Serbia, East Prussia and Galicia, where by Christmas the Germans, Austrians, Russians and Serbs had inflicted on each other three million casualties.

This book offers answers to the huge and fascinating question ‘what happened to Europe in 1914?’, through Max Hastings’s accustomed blend of top-down and bottom-up accounts from a multitude of statesmen and generals, peasants, housewives and private soldiers of seven nations. His narrative pricks myths and offers some striking and controversial judgements. For a host of readers gripped by the author’s last international best-seller All Hell Let Loose, this will seem a worthy successor.

About the author

Sir Max Hastings is the author of twenty-four books, many of them about war. He was educated at Charterhouse and University College, Oxford, which he quit after a year to become a journalist. Thereafter he reported for newspapers and BBC TV from sixty-four countries and eleven conflicts, notably the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Vietnam and the 1982 Battle for the Falklands. Between 1986 and 2002 he was editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph, then editor of the Evening Standard. He has won many prizes both for journalism and for his books, most recently the 2012 Chicago Pritzker Library’s $100,000 literary award for his contribution to military history, and the RUSI’s Westminster Medal for his international best-seller All Hell Let Loose. He has two grown-up children, Charlotte and Harry, and lives with his wife Penny in West Berkshire, where they garden enthusiastically.


  • Enhanced version????

    By DenisMc
    This well-written and engaging account is largely ruined by inexcusable gaps in the text. These occur at chapter ends, often where the author is building up to a summarising phrase or paragraph. If this were a printed book, I'd be taking it back to the shop. Infuriating!
  • Hastings at his best

    By James_55
    I loved All Hell Let Loose and this is shaping up to be just as good. The extra content is also really interesting and useful. There's a great interview with Max Hastings at the beginning and I really like the interactive map feature.
  • Enhanced edition

    By OK12092013
    The update on 16 September solved the problem I was seeing and it now works as advertised, great publication!
  • Great Book!

    By phoenix_1988
    Videos worked fine for me - amazing map features; I loved seeing what was going on as I was reading it.