This is a very entertaining and readable book about the first month of WWI. The scope is basically the assassination of the Archduke in Sarajevo to the eve of the Marne (and includes the Battle of Tannenburg on the eastern front). Because most of the action occurs in the western front at this stage of the war, the book concentrates there. It develops the Schlieffen Plan and the French war plans (Plan 17) and explains how the high commands of both countries attempt to carry out these plans irrespective of what the other side is doing. Tuchman does not assign blame. She tries her best to give all sides of a disagreement in policy or action. This even-handed account is most welcome. The best example of this approach is her treatment of Lanrezac, commander of the French 5th army from the start of the war to a few days before the Marne - she points out that he was the man most essential to preventing the Germans from turning the French flank in the early battles, but then agrees with his dismissal at the eve of the Marne: "He was not the man to lead the offensive." The only person she completely villifies is Sir John French, leader of the BEF. Although I get the impression that she would have forgiven his follies if only he hadn't written a book after the war full of inconsistencies and, to use Tuchman's word, "lies." Most importantly, the book is very well-written, enjoyable and clear to read, and even witty. Unfortunately, there are some spots with vague allusions to historical events and people without explanantion. While a practising historian probably finds this humourous or helpful, it is murky for an amateur. This is a minor point, though, and on the whole, this book is stellar. Highly recommended.