The Longest Battle of the Great War

Book - 2014
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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 newer social 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 unprecedented authority 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 resources poured in ceaselessly, perpetuating slaughter indefinitely. -- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, [2014]
ISBN: 9780199316892
Characteristics: xi, 324 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm


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Apr 17, 2015

I have not read the book yet but have it on-hold based on a glowing review from " 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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