Verdun

Verdun

The Longest Battle of the Great War

Book - 2014
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At seven o'clock in the morning on February 21, 1916, the ground in northern France began to shake. For the next ten hours, twelve hundred German guns showered shells on a salient in French lines. The massive weight of explosives collapsed dugouts, obliterated trenches, severed communicationwires, and drove men mad. As the barrage lifted, German troops moved forward, darting from shell crater to shell crater. The battle of Verdun had begun. In Verdun, historian Paul Jankowski provides the definitive account of the iconic battle of World War I. A leading expert on the French past, Jankowski combines the best of traditional military history - its emphasis on leaders, plans, technology, and the contingency of combat - with the newersocial and cultural approach, stressing the soldier's experience, the institutional structures of the military, and the impact of war on national memory. Unusually, this book draws on deep research in French and German archives; this mastery of sources in both languages gives Verdun unprecedentedauthority and scope. In many ways, Jankowski writes, the battle represents a conundrum. It has an almost unique status among the battles of the Great War; and yet, he argues, it was not decisive, sparked no political changes, and was not even the bloodiest episode of the conflict. It is said that Verdun made France, he writes; but the question should be, What did France make of Verdun?Over time, it proved to be the last great victory of French arms, standing on their own. And, for France and Germany, the battle would symbolize the terror of industrialized warfare, "a technocratic Moloch devouring its children," where no advance or retreat was possible, yet national resourcespoured in ceaselessly, perpetuating slaughter indefinitely.
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, [2014]
ISBN: 9780199316892
0199316899
Characteristics: xi, 324 p. : ill., maps.

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juren99
Apr 17, 2015

I have not read the book yet but have it on-hold based on a glowing review from StrategyPage.com " Verdun, originally published in France in 2013, is hard to categorize. Prof. Jankowski (Brandeis) gives us an outstanding account of the battle, which lasted 302 days, from late February through mid-December of 1916, and has come to stand as an iconic symbol of all the horrors of the Great War.

But Jankowski does far more than merely give us a history of the battle. Jankowski makes frequent comparisons between Verdun and other battles, many that were both bloodier and more decisive, and explores why this battle rose to such symbolic status. He explores the many myths of the battle ... looks at the life of the men in the trenches and the thinking of their generals and political leaders, how tactics and technology evolved during the fighting, examines the surprisingly similar ups and downs in the morale of the troops on both sides, and more."

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