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The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Sir…

The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (original 1962; edition 1979)

by Sir Alistair Horne

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5261019,198 (4.22)17
Title:The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
Authors:Sir Alistair Horne
Info:Penguin Books (1979), Edition: Abridged, Paperback, 384 pages
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The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Sir Alistair Horne (1962)


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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
At the end of each year I select the best book I read in that yeaar. In 1964 I read 32 books. This was, without a doubt, the best book Iread in 1964. It overwhelmed me. ( )
  Schmerguls | May 14, 2013 |
Heartbreaking in its stupidity... ( )
  ScoutJ | Mar 31, 2013 |
"The Price of Glory" is a true masterpiece of First World War history with the author striking a perfect balance in recounting the events of the Battle of Verdun. He presents the all important historical background concerning the humiliating defeat of the French by the Prussians in 1870 and spends a good deal of time on the flawed generals of both sides who wasted hundreds of thousands of young lives over the space of 10 months.
Verdun became a totem to both the French and German nations leading to an overwhelming commitment by both sides that went far beyond military logic. Horne shows the astounding inability of the generals (particularly the French) to adapt to the reality of fixed position warfare using heavy artillery and machine guns. The ethos of the French GHQ typified by Joffre was the "L'Attaque à Outrance", a sort of wild romantic attack with light artillery along Napoleonic lines, to which end for example, he removed most of the guns and men from the vital strategic fort of Douaumont (too positional) allowing ten surprised German soldiers to walk in unchallenged. Its worth reading the book just for the story of sergeant Kunze and the progress of his nine men.
Eventually the French won a Pyrrhic victory as German reserves were exhausted, Falkenhayn vacillated and France finally found a capable general in Philippe Petain. He shunted out the romantics and adapted to the new environment, organising supply, rotating exhausted troops and carefully studying terrain and reserves in defence and attack. The victory was his and in the epilogue the author clearly sides with him in his post WW2 trial for collaborating with France's German occupiers. He was 90 years old at the time and said," My thought, my only thought, was to remain with them (the French) on the soil of France, according to my promise, so as to protect them and lessen their suffering". His ADC he knew him better than anyone and said quite correctly that, " You think too much about the French and not enough about France".

In stark contrast, the inflexible romantic Charles De Gaulle thought much about "La Gloire de La France" and hounded the saviour of Verdun to a death sentence which was eventually commuted to life imprisonment.

An extraordinarily good book in many ways. ( )
  Miro | Feb 5, 2011 |
A book that sat of my shelf far too long! This was absolutely outstanding. The subject matter is as grim as anything you've ever read, but Horne's telling of the story is superb. I've been reading military history all my life, and to have never known the story of Fort Vaux is a scandal. I myself am guilty of telling the "France can't fight" jokes, but I know better now.

Read this book. It will teach you more about what the human spirit can survive. It will also remind you that man's greatest enemy is, and will always be, himself. ( )
  sergerca | Jan 21, 2011 |
This is an informative book that, because of a singular flaw, left me insulted and uninterested in reading any thing else by this author. You may not share my vulnerability.
If you can also read French, you should not even notice this flaw.

Reading this book, I learned many details about the battle of Verdun in World War I as was my objective. However often, when it appeared that a conclusion was to be shared or point made, a French phase was often used to do so. Because I do not read French, the full value of this work was not available to me. Because of the overall quality of the writing, I was sufficiently motivated to pay a co-worker to translate, but she disliked the subject of the book to the degree the she gave up on the effort. Having to pay for a translation of a book that is written in English was most annoying.

My impression is that the author and his editor did not consider that the readership would not be bilingual or did not care if they were not. I have never read any other book by this author. It has been 19 years since I read this book; the intensity of my feelings even now surprises me.
  LpmH | Oct 18, 2008 |
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This Western-front business couldn't be done again, not for a long time. The young men think they could do it again but they couldn't. They could fight the first Marne again but not this, this took religion and years of plenty and tremendous sureties and the exact relation that existed between the classes. The Russians and Italians weren't any good on this front. You had to have a whole-souled sentimental equipment going back further than you could remember. You had to remember Christmas, and postcards of the Crown Prince and his fiancee, and little cafes in Valence and beer gardens in Unter den Linden and weddings at the Mairie, and going to the Derby, and your grandfather's whiskers....This was a love battle-there was a century of middle-class love spent here....All my beautiful lovely safe world blew itself up here with a great gust of high explosive love.... - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night
To Francis and Jacqueline
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Three and a half years elapsed between the First Battle of the Marne, when the Kaiser's armies reached the gates of Paris, and Ludendorff's last-gasp offensive that so nearly succeeded in the Spring of 1918.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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