am 13. Februar 1999
The story that Barbara Tuchman tells in The Zimmermann Telegram is one of international diplomacy in the period just before World War One. Tuchman centers her story on the apex of a single article of communication (the telegram) and expands from there. The story begins in the North Sea just before the British declaration of war on Germany. The British cable ship Telconia dredges the sea searching for five cables at the bottom connecting Germany's communication with the of the European and North American continents. All five cables are cut. Furthermore, Britain coaxed Eastern Telegraph, the American owner of the only other cable to North America (running from North Africa to Brazil), to pull the cables that would allow German communication with the world. Germany was now bound to wireless communication for the duration of the war. This is significant because it allowed the British to secretly intercept all German communications, and begin to decode them in the British Naval Intelligence office referred to as "Room 40". Inside Room 40, Britain learned to crack the German code. This is how the British, and consequently the Americans, were able to learn about the Zimmermann Telegram. The Telegram put the British in a precarious position. They desperately needed the United States to become a belligerent and enter the war against Germany if Britain hoped to win the war. At the same time if the British gave the Americans the Telegram and it was released, the Germans might deduce the existence of Room 40 and discover that their code had been unraveled, thereby compromising all British ability to "listen in" on the Germans for the rest of the war. Additionally, the Telegram was no guarantee that the United States would declare war against Germany or that the Americans would even believe the authenticity of the Telegram. It is the analysis of U.S., German, and British players and the revelation of how The Zimmermann Telegram was eventually delivered to the U.S. Government (without compromising Room 40, and at the same time successfully brought the U.S. into war against Germany) that Tuchman wrote about. Tuchman's style was objective in construction by use of factual evidence from many sources. She wrote the book fairly, comparing both the British and German sides. She illustrated that there were supporters on both sides in the United States. Through all of the descriptions she portrayed Woodrow Wilson as neutral until the end, and discussed the external forces on Wilson that tried to persuade him in all directions. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and former President Theodore Roosevelt supported the side of Britain and war; Robert LaFollette and other isolationist senators on the side of non-intervention. Tuchman centered all events on the final outcome-would the Americans be persuaded to believe the authenticity of the Zimmermann Telegram? Would they declare war on Germany because of it? Tuchman was persuasive in her argument that it was ultimately the Zimmermann Telegram that caused Wilson to ask Congress for belligerency. Her sources were mostly first-hand accounts taken from the journals and diaries of major participants in the events that surrounded the Zimmermann Telegram. Important to her research were notes supplied by British Admiral Hall's (Director of British Naval Intelligence) private secretary, as well as personal papers of Joseph Grew (U.S. Ambassador) and those papers of Ambassador Walter Hines Page. Further research by Tuchman was accredited to help from the Foreign Office Archives Office in London and the historical manuscripts of both President Wilson and Secretary of State Lansing. Because The Zimmermann Telegram was well researched and convincing in its points, Tuchman revealed to the reader a deeper level of understanding surrounding the events that led up to the American declaration of war against Germany. Tuchman shrugged off the commonly held elementary notions that it was the sinking of the Lusitania, or the declaration of German unrestricted submarine warfare that caused the U.S. to declare its belligerency. She argued that while these events were certainly considerations in the decision for war, they were not enough to cause the U.S. to break its policy of neutrality. She was successful in persuading the reader that it was the secret German proposal of a pact with Mexico and Japan that became the proverbial straw. Tuchman's thesis that the Zimmermann Telegram was the single most important reason that America declared war against Germany was a believable one. It clearly showed evidence for the German government's theory that a secret pact with Mexico and Japan would be her only chance of defeating The United States in a war. Tuchman pointed out that Germany made only two significant blunders that forced America into the war declaration. First, Germany's mistaken ignorance that German intelligence was so superior to that of the Allies that the Allies could have never cracked the German code. Secondly, Zimmermann's puzzling admission of the authenticity of the telegram when much of the American public and Congress believed it to be a British hoax (Britain could not reveal the authenticity without compromising Room 40). In conclusion, Tuchman gave an exciting dimension of suspense to the events surrounding America's entry into World War One by revealing first person accounts and minor personalities that played a role in the events leading to this crux. She made the valid argument that it was the Zimmermann Telegram that ultimately brought Wilson and the American Congress (and people) to this decision after a long period of neutrality toward Germany.
am 8. Mai 1999
The real reason behind the U.S.'s entry into WWI. In just 200 pages, Tuchman balances an international cast of major and supporting characters; intrigues, both serious and ludicrous; and lessons in the contemporary state of global politics. Tuchman wraps this mix up with a crackling narration that places this whole sordid affair into context without overburdening the text with cumbersome details. An incredible accomplishment, but no surprise since it's a Barbara Tuchman book.
am 17. August 2013
I came to learn about the Zimmerman Telegram in a sort of backward way; I learned about it in a German history class at school.
It was interesting but not until I saw that there was a Barbara Tuchman book (author of "The Guns of August") did I decide to dive in a little deeper.
You will be intrigued and find that even though the main subject of the book is the Zimmerman Telegram that it is the various people involved that makes the story come to life.
"The Americans were always calling upon the Munro doctrine as if it was some sort of covenant established by God, giving them rights over the rest of the hemisphere. Wilhelm believed that if God were going to play favorites He would choose Germany."
am 6. Januar 2000
A good book, and it answered all of the ?'s I have ever had and it even told me more. I recommend the book but feel that I must tell all, that at times it can be boring, but stick with it, because it does get better.