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A Storm in Flanders: The Ypres Salient, 1914-1918: Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front Paperback – April, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Trade Paper Edition edition (April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802139981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802139986
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Novelist Winston Groom (Forrest Gump) brings his considerable skills as a storyteller and researcher to this gory tour of "the most notorious and dreaded place in all of the First World War, probably of any war in history." The Ypres salient, a small, hilly section of Belgium, witnessed the wholesale destruction of the old British professional army, "the Old Contemptibles"; it was the place where the great armies of England, France, and Germany were locked in a dance of death for four years, where "more than a million soldiers were shot, bayoneted, bludgeoned, bombed, grenaded, gassed, incinerated by flamethrowers, drowned in shell craters, smothered by caved-in trenches, obliterated by underground mines, or, more often than not, blown to pieces by artillery shells." Extraordinary moments occurred in that vast hell, including the renowned Christmas truce of 1914, when the armies set aside the killing for a few short hours, crossed the trenches, and celebrated together. But mostly the scenery was unbeautiful mud and blood, the makings of Groom's chilling canvas, one populated by the famed generals and ordinary soldiers who met in Flanders fields. The stuff of Groom's story will be familiar to readers of Liddell Hart, Keegan, and other scholars, and readers new to the history of the Great War will find it a memorable introduction. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Groom wrote Forrest Gump, but this is no whimsical novel. Here, he studies World War I's infamous Battle of Ypres.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Groom writes well and the flow of his book is very good.
Kevin M Quigg
This is a book that is of interest to World War I historians in addition to those whose knowledge of the Great War is limited.
Bill Emblom
Even if you are not interested in WW1 history (which I was not before I read this book) read it!
Robert Zebian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 58 people found the following review helpful By William Holmes VINE VOICE on June 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have a long-standing interest in history in general and military history in particular. After reading dozens if not hundreds of these books, I have found that the ones that stick with me are the ones that are beautifully written.
"A Storm in Flanders" is such a book, focusing on the British experience in the Ypres Salient during World War I. Groom wrote "Forrest Gump," as well as several history books. He knows how to put a sentence together and how to tell a gripping story. Once I picked this book up and started reading, I was hooked.
Much as Stephen Ambrose has done in his elegant books about World War II, Groom moves seamlessly between the generals in their chateaus and the grunts in their trenches. He makes use of diaries and poetry to tell the human story of a struggle that is all too often reduced to an abstract description of maneuver and battle. And he is very fair in his assessments--he acknowledges the criticisms of General Haig and many of the other leaders of the war, but he is always careful to balance these views with other considerations. The result is a well-told tale, fair and sympathetic to everyone involved.
The story of the Ypres Salient is not pretty. Groom does not pull his punches and does his best to give the reader, sitting in a comfortable armchair, some sense of just how horrible the Great War was. In a passage that I found especially memorable, Groom quotes Lieutenant Alfred J. Angel of the Royal Fusiliers during Third Ypres: "The stench was horrible, for the bodies were not corpses in the normal sense. With all the shell-fire and bombardments they'd been continually disturbed, and the whole place was a mess of filth and slime and bones and decomposing bits of flesh.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Aussie Reader on July 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Winston Groom's latest historical work 'A Storm in Flanders', offers the reader an interesting and satisfying overview of the fighting around the Ypres Salient between 1914 and 1918. The book is 276 pages in length of which over 260 is text. This account cannot be considered comprehensive in its study of the Ypres Salient in the Great War, for that you will need to look elsewhere. However what Mr Groom does offer is a compelling look at the numerous battles fought around the Ypres Salient, including one of the most dreadful battles of World War One, Passchendaele, the Third Battle of Ypres.
The author has attempted to give you, the reader, an insight into the lives of the soldier huddled in his wet trench under constant artillery fire, where thousands of soldiers lost their lives in daily 'wastage', even during quiet periods. The story is told mainly from the British point of view, with numerous first-hand accounts offered throughout the book. The narrative is fast paced and you never get tired or bored with the story. I have read many books on the Great War and I never cease to wonder why these brave men endured what they did and for so long.
The author provides the reader with details about the introduction of new weapons of destruction unleashed for the first time during the Great War. Stories of how poisons gas was utilized by the Germans and then the Allies, followed by accounts of the victims and witnesses to the effects of gas are truly horrendous. Then follows the introduction of massive underground mines and the flame-thrower to combat the trench systems and machine gun posts of the enemy.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By John Anderson on November 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
One can't really say that one "enjoyed" a book devoted to one of the most protracted and bloody sequences of battles in a truly terrible war, but I certainly found myself moving through Groom's book with an interest and a speed that I hadn't encountered in many other "histories". From the outset Groom makes it clear that he is NOT interested in writing a "definitive history" rather he wants to introduce a new -and primarily American-audience to an aspect of World War I that seems to have faded from public knowledge. In this I think he succeeds brilliantly. That being said, I do have some serious quibbles with the book. First of all, I never felt that we really got much insight into what the generals and politicians were thinking or how they rationalized four years of slaughter. We get periodic references to tension between French & Haig, Haig and Lloyd George, etc. but Groom never really discusses the cause of these tensions in any detail, nor does he emphasize the often tragic outcomes of staff-level disagreements. The strength of the book is really in the middle, where Groom settles in to describe the horror of trench warfare and the period from 1915-1916. Both the beginning and the end of the book have a feeling of being "rushed". I am not sure how well a reader unfamiliar with any background material will do dealing with the events leading up to the battle, and by the time we get to Passchendale one gets the feeling that Groom is as exhausted as the armies involved -the final (and ultimately decisive) battles are covered in a handful of pages & while Groom quotes various authorities as to their importance, his own description leaves me feeling vaguely disappointed.Read more ›
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