In her most ambitious book to date, Barbara Tuchman (The Zimmerman Telegram -- 1958, The Guns of August -- 1962) profiles the world as it was in the years that led to WWI. In her Foreword, the author says of the era, "We have been misled by the people of the time themselves who in looking back across the gulf of the War, see that earlier half of their lives misted over by a lovely sunset haze of peace and security." Her research clearly shows that the seeds of hatred and violence were growing in the political realities which had not yet forced discomfort upon the most privileged classes. As in The Guns of August, her fascination for those who managed power is evident. No memoir or biography seems to have been overlooked for the most significant quotation or incident revealing the man behind the political or the social situation. Eight long sections take the reader around the world from England to Austria, to the United States, to France, to Germany, to the Hague and through the beginnings of socialism in England and on the Continent. The time span for each goes from the fermenting 1890's to the eve of the debacle in 1914. Readers familiar with her earlier books know how well the author writes and organizes her material. This, plus the continuing interest in WWI, will add to the ready readership for this book, which may not have quite the shotgun appeal of her biggest success.