This book could have been summed up in 5 pages with a description of the war, the emergence of the telegram, and the post-telegram effect. But Tuchman wonderfully expands the book so that you understand the different players involved in the war at the time and learn a bit about their personalities. A great, easy read of an important time in history.
The average person thinks that it was the sinking of the Lusitania that brought the United States into World War I. Not so! In this slim volume that reads like a whodunnit, Barbara Tuchman reveals the little known secret of The Zimmerman Telegram. Basically, Germany wanted to keep the U.S. and its industrial might out of the European conflict by convincing Mexico and Japan to attack the U.S. Germany even promised Mexico it would get back Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona! What the Germans didn't know is that as soon as war was declared, the first thing the British did was cut Germany's transatlantic cable. All telegrams or telephone calls to North America had to travel over Britain's cable. And the British intercepted every telegram out of Germany. Even though the Zimmerman telegram was sent in code, it was broken. But the shrewd British held onto it, not revealing its contents until it was absolutely necessary, and in such a way that they didn't have to reveal that they were intercepting German messages! Brilliant! When the New York Times published the telegram in 1917, it was but a short time until pacifist Woodrow Wilson got a declaration of war from Congress, and the U.S. began sending troops "over there." A great read!
After thiry months of ghastly carnage, the Allies and Germany were hopelessly deadlocked. Then, on January 17, 1917, a telegram from Germany's Foreign Secretary was intercepted. That top secret message would shock neutral America into its first foreign war!
The Zimmerman Telegram - An incredible tale of intrigues and covert activities unrivaled in the annals of history or fiction.