The War was decided in the first twenty days of fighting, and all that happened afterwards consisted in battles which, however formidable and devastating, were but desperate and vain appeals against the decision of Fate.
Blueprint for Armageddon (Hardcore History #50-#55)
By Dan Carlin
The planet hadn’t seen a major war between all the Great Powers since the downfall of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. But 99 years later the dam breaks and a Pandora’s Box of violence engulfs the planet.
So I waffled on whether or not to include this as a book review since it is technically a podcast (part of Carlin’s long-running Hardcore History series). It is thoroughly researched, well structured, and reads like any other audiobook one would listen to. Plus, it’s 23 hours long. And Goodreads has a page for it. My mind is made up. It counts!
Blueprint for Armageddon is the epic tale of World War I, the globe-spanning conflict that effectively ended the old-world mindset towards combat and changed the global psyche forever. Carlin narrates an expertly researched work that takes listeners from the first gunshot to the final treaties. He dips into the events that led to this war, muses on the mindsets of the men who drove it forward, and highlights the horrors experienced by soldiers fighting in something entirely new and utterly devastating.
The narrative is engaging, shocking, but nonetheless wonderfully entertaining. Carlin mixes the story of the War with other relevant historical asides, and intersperses it all with quotes from those who lived through the world-changing conflict.
Carlin also looks at the situation from multiple angles and national perspectives. This was much appreciated. As an American, I learned very little about WWI outside of my country’s involvement in it. My educational highlights were essentially: Franz Ferdinand, Trenches, Gas, Lusitania, Wilson, America, November 11th. This goes so far beyond that, and it was especially interesting to hear all about the Canadian involvement. I was on vacation in Toronto when I started listening to this book, and it was remarkable how many public statues and monuments are devoted to their soldiers who fought. The United States was involved for about 18 months; the Canadians had been there from the start. It left a much larger mark in the history of my neighbors to the north. Heck, the Hockey Hall of Fame even has a section devoted to the players who served, and in many cases, died during the war. The change in perspective was incredible.
Furthermore, if you follow my blog you’re probably aware that I’ve been reading War and Peace for the last two months. That Russian epic deals with the culture and context surrounding the Napoleonic Wars, and it is with those same wars that Carlin opens Blueprint for Armageddon. The contrasts between the two conflicts highlight how different warfare had become in only a century. It was absolutely fascinating to see the parallels and divergences between them, and the new knowledge I’ve acquired from both works has given me and even greater understanding of world history.
Should You Read This?
Absolutely. Even if you consider yourself well-versed in the intricacies of World War I you will find something new and of interest here. The engaging storytelling and the treatment of multiple perspectives paints a whole picture of the conflict that also draws parallels to the past.
Check it out- it’s free as a podcast.
Summary from Goodreads