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Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War Illustrated Edition
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"[Jankowski] has written what certainly must stand as the most definitive history of the World War I Battle of Verdun...In this majestically crafted book, the author exposes many of the myths about the battle that have developed over a century of narrative. He demonstrates an exceptional mastery of sources and method, as he mined the German as well as the French primary sources, and is equally adept at both traditional military history and the new social history that, until recently, dominated the enterprise...By exploring all the connections between what happened on the battlefield and its impact and legacy, Jankowski compellingly illuminates the complex interaction of myth and reality built up over time concerning the Battle of Verdun."--Army History
"Brilliant." --Los Angeles Review of Books
"The horrors have been described often and elaborately, but Mr. Jankowski is skillful enough that his accounts still provoke." --Wall Street Journal
"One of its foremost virtues is to brush aside the insistence of modern folklore.... that Verdun imposed on its participants horrors unprecedented in history." --Max Hastings, The Sunday Times
"Jankowski recognizes the significance of the battle that Maurice Genevoix, a French novelist and World War I veteran, was said to have called 'the battle-symbol of the entire 1914-1918 war...' He relies heavily on the memoirs, journals and letters of those who were present during the battle to complete his work." --Army magazine
"Jankowski has written a superb, definitive popular account of Verdun through the eyes of soldiers, military leaders, and citizens of the two nations." --Publishers Weekly
"Jankowski's revisionist book is a major achievement...The writing throughout is of the highest order... At every stage, Jankowski integrates the military narrative with broader political and cultural dimensions... Jankowski's book offers a model history of warfare." --Philip Jenkins, Books & Culture
"Paul Jankowski's Verdun is a great book, truly a masterwork of modern literature. On a much studied event (25 percent of all the many French books on World War I have been about the battle of Verdun), he has given us a work of rare originality and creativity. And he has done it with old fashioned virtues of grace and refinement. This is not only a new interpretation of a major subject. It is also a new model of how history might be written on many subjects." --David Hackett Fischer
"This fine book straddles two generations of writing on the Great War. It is a superb account of the unfolding of the battle from the viewpoint of the commanders, and a moving narrative of the tenacity of small groups of men pushed beyond the limits of human endurance." --Jay Winter, Yale University
"Paul Jankowski provides a balanced, scholarly account of the pivotal Battle of Verdun. Within a smoothly flowing narrative, he highlights critical themes in both traditional military history and the social history of warfare. This book is a first-stop source for students of the First World War, and a superb survey of what arguably stands the greatest battle in human history." --Edward G. Lengel, author of To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918
"Paul Jankowski's Verdun is the first major study of the battle to appear in English for many years, and the first to draw fully on archival research on both sides. Jankowski presents a thoughtful, original, and moving account, full of insights into the course of the fighting and its subsequent commemoration and impact." --David Stevenson, author of Cataclysm:The First World War as Political Tragedy and With our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918
About the Author
Paul Jankowski is Raymond Ginger Professor of History at Brandeis University. His many books include Stavinksy: A Confidence Man in the Republic of Virtue and Shades of Indignation: Political Scandals in France, Past and Present.
- Item Weight : 1.25 pounds
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0199316899
- ISBN-13 : 978-0199316892
- Publisher : Oxford University Press; Illustrated Edition (February 3, 2014)
- Product Dimensions : 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #249,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The various chapters seemed to be completely disconnected from one another, with no chronological order. In addition, the author hashes and rehashes several points ad nauseam. I gave up on the book after the first four chapters.
Save your money, there are better books out there!
0 to 5 with 0 the lowest score and 5 the highest and NA for not applicable:
Coverage of topic 5
Adequacy of descriptions 5
Sufficient Maps 3
Sufficient Drawings NA
Sufficient Photos 4
Product worth the price - Yes, 5.
There are a number of ways to analyze a battle, especially if it is the most written about engagement of World War I. There are three current books on the subject, and the approach of each is strikingly different. One is McNab’s VERDUN 1916, BATTLE STORY, smaller and more economically priced than its competition, it is rather direct in giving the reader coverage of the battle and recommended. Then there is the most popular of the new books, Mosier’s THE LOST HISTORY OF THE MOST IMPORTANT BATTLE OF WORLD WAR I: VERDUN. The author has lost sight of his claim the “most important” while going off on tangents and producing a “Gee Wiz” type of book in which he points some interesting items (some incorrect) with which the average history buff may impress his friends. Then there is Jankowski’s VERDUN: The Longest Battle of the Great War. Unlike Mosier, he does not claim the battle lasted from 1914 to 1918, but actually covered the actual battle of 1916. Both Mosier and Jankowski include a long detail bibliography, but it is clear that only the latter actually read all those books and documents. Both have a good writing style, but that does not necessarily make a good history books. Jankowski does not provide the detail of the battle found in McNab’s book (Verdun, a Battle History), but if that is what you want Alstair Horne’s book (The Price of Glory) from the 1960s still provides a decent history.
Jankowski does an excellent job in assimilating all his sources to give the reader who already knows something about the battle a better picture of the various aspects of battle including tactics, leaders, and events. The various chapters attempt to tackle such things as the French and German point of view, how the battle affected the public, moral, medical services, desertion, losses and so on. For those who have read Joffre’s and Petain’s accounts, you may have noticed something is missing. These, and other generals, as the author points out, came from the rear depending on reports, and messages, while sending out their life and death orders without actually knowing or even caring what the soldiers at the front experienced. Their front line inspections amounted to little, although Petain seemed to have a much better understanding of what was happening to his men. Meanwhile, generals like Mangin led suicidal charges from behind a desk including a desperate attempt to retake Fort Douaumont. Other officers would refuse to carry some of the directives and on the German side things were no better. The troops in Feldgrau had also become distraught by being slaughtered by French 75s and machine-guns not destroyed in the massive bombardments. Even the German Crown Prince commanding the German 5th Army questioned the leadership and strategy of his commander, General Falkenhayn. Falkenhayn only tried to explain the battle after the war when he decided to claim it was to “bleed the French white.” Unlike the other two books mentioned, this one provides some interesting evidence of how morale rose and fell on both sides, the contribution of the battle to larger mutinies the following year, and even how both sides tried to turn the results of the battle into a victory. This book is for those who already know a little about the battle of Verdun and have sufficient grey matter to want to know how this battle played out and was not a battle of attrition, but one that defined the war.
Verdun by McNab - Recommend for description of the actual battle *****
Verdun by Mosier - Only recommend if your just wanting some facts to impress your friends, but not improve your understanding
of the battle. Better selection of maps than the other two books, but rather simple. Remember it includes a
number of errors and the author thinks the battle lasted 4 years. **
Verdun by Janowski - Recommend for an understanding of the various aspects of the battle and its significance. Maps not
much better than Mosier book and more needed. *****
My biggest problem with this book is the authors language. You'll find yourself spending more time in the dictionary looking up the words he used than actually enjoying the flow the the book.
Top reviews from other countries
Paul Jankowski's work is more an account of the social and political dimensions, not only at the time but how remembrance has been expressed and changed in the decades since the battle. He does this very well and thus merits the 4 stars for this achievement. Whilst he does not labour the point the seeds of Nazism and Vichy capitulation clearly relate to how the two post-war societies dealt with the experiences and memories of the war, with Verdun having a very special place in the memories of horror.
The hapless Falkenhayen continues his special position in the top list of the unloved in history.