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Verdun 1916 by Malcolm Brown

Verdun 1916

by Malcolm Brown

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291378,207 (3.5)1
  1. 00
    The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne (CSL)
    CSL: This book, while an adequate overview of Verdun, is nowhere near as good as Alistair Horne's classic.

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Verdun 1916 is one of the few volumes readily available for English speakers on that battle, and indeed most anything to do with the weighty French contribution in the First World War. Malcolm Brown does a well enough job in the book, but could have done much better considering the last ample English language job to be given the battle was The Price of Glory by Alistair Horne and undoubtedly a wealth of new sources or a better reappraisal of the conflict should have been possible. Instead Brown gives a rather lackluster account of the battle, from the first few background chapters into a rather compressed account of the battle, and inter-spaced with a few chapters on some of the more interesting side facts like supply logistics and the like. That said the lack of a good analysis of the battle, nor of the way each of the two combatants fought, or a more indepth analysis of the commanders, etc, really harms the book from the perspective of looking at the overall picture of the battle. Especially galling to myself was the lack of insight as to how Verdun impacted the strategic picture during 1916 from both the Entente and Central Powers viewpoints.

The one upside of the book is that Malcolm Brown really follows in the footsteps of Richard Holmes, author of Redcoat and Tommy, as he quotes Holmes frequently and uses the style of large block quote segments that Holmes may be better known for. Its pretty good for getting across the individual stories of some of those who fought at Verdun, which was itself appreciated.

A few other points - this is, again, another book with not nearly enough maps, with only one reprint of a Michelin Guide map from the 1920s! There is, in contrast a nice quantity of pictures, fifty in all. Additionally it should be known that while the German perspective comes around in a small amount its rather shuffled off to the side most of the time - I was hard pressed to find any German sources listed in the bibliography for instance and most of those are just memoirs. ( )
1 vote CSL | Mar 31, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0752425994, Paperback)

1916 was a year of killing. The British remember the Somme, but earlier in the year the heart of the French army was ripped out by the Germans at Verdun. The garrison city in northeastern France was the focus of a massive German attack; the French fought back ferociously, leading to a battle that would permanently scar the French psyche. Using original French sources and eyewitness accounts from both sides, Malcolm Brown brings the horror of Verdun into vivid focus.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:04 -0400)

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