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Old December 22nd, 2017, 01:24 PM   #41

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The review continues with the epilogue, note that this is the last "chapter" review and following entries will deal with sources, comparison Mosier and Jankowski and the overall relevance of The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 today...


The book's epilogue is a shorter entry that essentially continues with the legacy aspects that the Battle of Verdun left and opens with the attempted suicide of Heinrich von Stulpnagel in the aftermath of the failure of the July 20, 1944 bomb plot to kill Adolf Hitler. Arrested by the Gestapo, the man tried to kill himself near the point where he had fought in 1916. He failed and lived long enough to be tortured and hung.

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(Heinrich von Stulpnagel, veteran of the Battle of Verdun, and was found face down in the River Meuse after a failed attempt at suicide in 1944)

Horne cites Stulpnagel as the battlefield's "last" victim... or at least its last German one. For Germany, more recent nightmares, like Stalingrad, would take Verdun's place in their memory. But for the French, Verdun seemed to live on. Horne even discussed an interview with a British military writer, though Horne does not name that writer, on the writer's invitation to be at the Ecole de Guerre for a series of lectures on the recent war and found most of his time being spent on glories of the Battle of Verdun. It is as if the ghosts of Verdun were not allowed to die in France as their methods in their post WW1 and WW2 colonial wars in Syria, Indochina, and Algeria, including the results leading to defeats at Dien Bien Phu and De Gaulle's withdrawal from Algeria soon drawing references to Verdun.

Horne even notes that other defense stands, like Bir Hakim or Strasbourg, fights where the Free French stood against superior numbers in World War II does not have the same legacy as the Battle of Verdun. Horne notes that children still made pilgrimages to a chapel near the Ossuary as part of commemoration services for the battle's beginning in February, even as Verdun itself transitioned back into being a sleepy garrison town after 1945...

Though even there, reminders remain. They range from various sorts of souvenirs made to commemorate the battle and make money off of tourists and the various memorials to the fallen and to the fighting in 1916. Helmets and signs used by the troops to the time of the writing of the book still remained.... and might still remain to this day. The biggest reminders may be the cemeteries in the region, with the French marked by white crosses and the Germans by black crosses, and all well cared for...

Many of these monuments and areas are marked and provide for a guide to the casual visitor, though some things sit in an odd comparison. Some areas have no monument... not a brick. The slopes of Mort Homme were planted over with fir trees in the 30s when nothing else would grow there. Horne equates it as the closest thing to a desert in Europe... and it still carries a ghostly type presence that even lovers will avoid... Which may relate to many of the missing from the Battle of Verdun as from time to time a Wild Boar finds some unknown soldier...

Click the image to open in full size.
(Wild Boar... these animals at the time the book was written roam the woods around Verdun... and on occasion may unearth the buried remains of men from the First World War not in one of the formal cemeteries)

The memories of the fallen draw many visitors to the Ossuary and in turn to the major sites of the battle, especially Forts Vaux and Douaumont that include additional reminders on the effects of the battle in 1916... with one mother's plaque being especially moving...

"To my son, since your eyes were closed mine have never ceased to cry."

- an anonymous mother's plaque, placed near the memorial to Raynal's last pigeon

-quoted by Alistair Horne The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 page 351
And yet... with all the reminders of the war... as time passes, the belief in rivalry and antagonism that existed between France and Germany seemed to vanish. Horne even quotes a German Luftwaffe colonel on his way to a NATO conference going through the Verdun area on his way and looking at the work to commemorate the Verdun battle being in reference to a very different world from the one he lived in. That it seemed to be something from the ancient past rather than something 50 years removed in the 1960s (when "The Price of Glory" was written). To which Horne then closes the epilogue with a series of questions on how long will ghosts of Verdun haunt the French?

How much longer will the ghosts of Verdun continue to torment France? When will they be exorcised? Will it be when the last of the old warriors guarding Douaumont and its memories have moved on to their Valhalla? Or will France have to wait until the eerie forests on the Mort Homme mature and are hewn down, and farms and happy villages once again populate its dead slopes?

- Alistair Horne The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 page 352
The edition of "The Price of Glory" that I have includes a postscript, written after the Berlin Wall came down in which Horne discusses actual correspondence with various figures from Germany and France with regard to the battle or persons from the battle. It includes the annotation that Petain's remains have not been allowed back to Verdun... despite the efforts of Kleber Dupuy. It also includes some discussion on the former residents of the Cecilienhof, then home of the East German Centre for Forensic Science.

CHAPTER STRENGTH: Remains one of the real strengths that has been with Horne throughout the book... His descriptive and brilliant way in which he's used the English language. It's served to make the book engaging and in many ways powerful. The haunting legacy the battle has had on France reinforces the overall narrative and even leaves the reader with a degree of wonder.

CHAPTER WEAKNESS: There IS one small editing mistake in the epilogue...

If you sit long enough on one of the forts on the Bois Bourrus, gazing at the superb panorama of the battlefield. perhaps a young shepherd with a torn trillby will come up to you, and divining your thoughts will remark scornfully:

"They must have been mad, ces gens-la."

- Alistair Horne The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 page 349-350
I believe what was meant to be between the words "battlefield" and "perhaps" was supposed to be a comma and not a period... but outside of that there was no real "weakness" in my opinion.

IMPORTANCE/CHAPTER THOUGHTS... Horne ends the book very well and with the same flair and engaging use of language that has made the book easily readable... relaying information on the legacy of the battle in a way that clearly shows the tone and intent of his narrative. And in that sense it quite touching in many ways...

The added postscript while it doesn't add much... does also present that Horne could and did add in some interesting side notes that occurred after the 1960s when he first wrote the book.

Last edited by Sam-Nary; December 22nd, 2017 at 02:55 PM.
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Old December 28th, 2017, 01:28 AM   #42

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The review continues with the listed sources provided by Horne...

Bibliography of Principle Sources:

Horne provides six pages that list the source material use. He has organized them and arranged them alphabetically with regard to the authors name and the sources are as follows:

Air Ministry, A Short Account of the RAF, London 1929

P. Allard, Les Dessous de la Guerre, reveles par les Comites, Secrets, Paris 1932

Army Quarterly, XXIV Verdun; Falkenhayn's Strategy, London 1932

Robert Aron Histoire de Vichy, Paris 1954

Paul Bansi Niedersachsische Fussartillerie Oldenburg 1928

H. Barbusse Le Feu Paris 1916

Maurice Barres L'ame francaise Paris 1915

E. Ashmead Bartlett Some of My Experiences in the Great War London 1918

Max Bauer Der Grosse Krieg in Feld und Heimat Tubingen 1922

G. Becker Verdun - Le Premier Choc de l'Attaque Allemande Paris 1932

Pierre Belperron Maginot of the Line London 1940

Robert Blake (ed) The Private Papers of Douglas Hai, 1914-1919 London 1952

M. Boasson Au Soir d'un Monde Paris 1926

JRG Bolton Petain London 1957

G Bonnefous Histoire Politique de la Troisieme Republique (vol II) Paris 1957

Henry Bordeaux (1) The Last Days of Fort Vaux London 1917, (2) The Deliverance of the Captives London 1919, (3) La Bataille devant Souville Paris 1921, (4) Joffre, ou l'Art de Commander Paris 1923, (5) Le Chevalier de l'Air,Vie Heroique de Georges Guynemer Paris 1919

Louis Botti Avec les Zouaves Paris 1922

H. Bouvard La Gloire de Verdun Paris 1935

P L Breant De l'Alsace a la Somme Paris 1917

C von Brandis Die Sturmer von Douaumont Berlin 1917

DW Brogan The Development of Modern France London 1940

P Bunau Varilla De Panama a Verdun Paris 1937

Sir Charles E. Callwell Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, Life and Diaries London 1927

J Coloni Comment Verdun fut Sauve Paris 1924

Roger Campana Les Enfants de la Grande Revanche Paris 1920

P Chaine Memoires d'un Rat Paris 1921

Guy Chapman Vain Glory London 1937

Jacques Chestenet (1) L'Enfance de la Troisieme, 1870-1879 Paris 1952, (2) Jours Inquiests et Jours Sanglants, 1906-1918 Paris 1957

R de Chavagnes De Guynemer a Fonck - L'Aviation de Chasse - Le Groupe des Cigognes Paris 1920

WS Churchill The World Crisis London 1931

A Cochin Le Capitaine Augustin Cochin Paris 1917

H Colin (1) La Cote 304 et le Mort Homme Paris 134* (2) Le Fort de Souville - L'Heure Supreme a Verdun Paris 1938

TE Compton "The Defense of Verdun" Journal of the Royal United Services Institute Vol. 66 1921

Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf Aus Meiner Dienstzei Vienna 1921-1925

Jean Norton Cru Temoins Paris 1929

John R Cuneo The Air Weapon, 1914-1916 Harrisburg 1947

Sir John Davidson Haig, Master of the Field London 1953

General Debeney La Guerre et les Hommes Paris 1937
Charles L Delvert (1) Histoire d'une Compagnie Paris 1918, (2) Quelques Heros Paris 1917

CL Delver and JF Bouchor Verdun Paris 1921

Etienne Derville Correspondence et Notes Tourcoing 1921

Robert Desaubliaux La Ruee Paris 1919

General Desmazes Joffre - La Victoire de Caractere Paris 1955

E Diaz Retg L'Assaut contre Verdun Paris 1918

R Dorgeles (1) Les Croix de Bois Paris 1919 (2) Le Cabaret de la Belle Femme Paris 1928

AYE Dubail De Liege a Verdun Paris 1920

Pal Dubrulle Mon Regiment Paris 1917

A Ducasse, J Meyer, G Perreux Vie et Mort des Francais, 1914-18 Paris 1960

Colonel Duffour La Guerre de 1914-1918, Cours a l'Ecole Superieur de Guerre Rambouillet 1924

H Dugard La Bataille de Verdun Verdun 1916

Georges Duhamel (1) Vie des Martyrs Paris 1919, (2) Civilisation Paris 1921

Marcel Dupont En Campagne; L'Attente Paris 1918

Jean Dutourd The Taxis of the Marne London 1957

Sir J Edmonds (1) History of the Great War, Military Operations France and Belgium London 1928-1948, (2) A Short History of World War I London 1951

E Erbelding Vor Verdun... aus dem Kriegstagebuch eines Frontoffziers Stuttgart 1927

PC Ettighoffer Verdun - Das Grosse Gericht Gutersloh 1936

E von Falkenhayn General Headquarters, 1914-16, and its Critical Decisions London 1919

Cyril Falls The First World War London 1960

Abel Ferry Les Carnets Secrets Paris 1958

Marshal Foch Memoirs London 1931

Wolfgang Foester Graf Schlieffen und der Weltkrieg Berlin 1921

F Fonsagrive En Batteriel Paris 1919

A Francois Poncet "A Discours de Reception a l'Academie Francaise, 1953" Le Monde 1953

F von Frantzius In Feld Unbesiegt Munich 1921

JFC Fuller Decisive Battles of the Western World (Vol. III) London 1956

General JS Gallieni Les Carnets de Gallieni Paris 1932

G Graudy Les Trous d'Obus de Verdun Paris 1922

Charles de Gaulle France and Her Army London 1945

Ludwig Gehre Die Deutsche Krafteverteilung whrend des Weltkrieges Berlin 1928

Walter Goerlitz History of the German General Staff, 1657-1945 London 1953

Gaston Gras 24 Octobre 1916 Verdun 1949

AL Grasset La Guerre en Action, Premier Choe 72 Division Paris 1923

Philip Guedalla The Two Marshals London 1943

Paul L Haack Mit der Kronprinzenarmee vor Verdun Breslau 1917

JN Hall and Chase B Nordhoff The Lafayette Flying Corps Boston 1920

Guy Halle La-Bas avec Ceux qui Souflrent Paris 1917

G Hanotaux Le General Mangin Paris 1936

Alfred Hein (1) In the Hell of Verdun London 1930, (2) Hohe 304 Leipzig 1942

General Hellot Le Commandement des Generaux Nivelle et Petain Paris 1936

Jules Henches Lettres de Guerre Cahors 1917

E Herscher Quelques Images de la Guerre (Woeuvre 1915-Verdun 1916) Paris 1917

Paul Heuze Les Camions de la Victoire Paris 1920

Field Marshal Hindenburg Out of My Life London 1920

Ernst Hoeppner Deutschlands Krieg in der Luft Leipzig 1921

Max Hoffmann The War of Lost Opportunities London 1924

Louis Hourticq Recits et Reflexions Paris 1918

Jacques Humbert La Division Barbot Paris 1919

Illustrated London News. Bound Editions 1916

Will Irwin The Latin at War New York 1917

Marshal Joffre The Memoirs of Marshal Joffre London 1932

Douglas Johnson Battlefields of the World War New York 1921

G Jollivet Le Colonel Driant Paris 1918

Klaus Jonas The Life of Crown Prince William London 1961

Alfred Joubaire Pour la France Paris 1917

Raymond Jubert Verdun Paris 1918

Ernst Junger The Storm of Steel London 1929

Ernst Kabisch (1) Ein Beitrag zum Problem der Verdun Schlacht Berlin 1931, (2) Verdun, Wende des Weltkriegs Berlin 1935

Wilhelm Kahler Vor Zehn Jahr - Bayerische Landwehr Greifswald 1924

RH Kiernan The First War in the Air London 1934

Leo Klovekorn Deutscche Wille 1938; Mit Junglehrern zu den Kampfstatten um Verdun and Fort Vaux Berlin 1938

Kurt von Klufer Seelenkrafte im Kampf um Douaumont Berlin 1938

Kriegszeitschrift der 50 Division Die Kampfe um die Feste Vaux, von Mitstreitern geschildert Darmstadt 1916

HJ von Kuhl Der Deutsche Generalstab in Vorbereitung und Durchfuhrung des Weltkrieges Berlin 1920

Joachim von Kurenberg The Kaiser London 1954

Bernard Lafont Au Ciel de Verdun, Pendant la Bataille Paris 1918

General Laure Petain Paris 1941

H Lefebvre Verdun, La Plus Grande Bataille de l'Histoire Paris 1918

Lefebvre - P Dibon Quatre Pages du 3e Bataillon du 74e RI Paris 1921

Le Temps. Bound editions 1916

BH Liddell Hart (1) Reputations Ten Years After London 1928, (2) History of the World War, 1914-18 London 1934, (3) The War in Outline London 1936, (4) Strategy of Indirect Approach London 1941

J Lienard La Litterature Inspiree par Verdun Verdun 1929

L'Illustration. Bound editions (no year given)

Theo Lohr In der Holle von Verdun Rosenheim 1932

Erich Ludendorff (1) My War Memories London 1920, (2) Urkunden der Obersten Heeresleitung, 1916-18 Berlin 1921

Louis Madelin L'Aveu - la Bataille de Verdun et l'Opinion Allemande Paris 1916

Ludwig Maier Verdun in Grauen des Krieges Attenhofer 1930

General Mangin Comment Finit la Guerre Paris 1920

Lt. Colonel Marchal La Bataille de Verdun Expliquee sur le Terrain Verdun (Horne lists no date and states that the source used had no date posted)

Francis Martel Petain, Verdun to Vichy New York 1943

Prince Max of Baden Memoirs London 1928

P de Mazenod Les Etapes du Sacrifice Paris 1922

JR McConnel Flying for France New York 1917

Cesar Melera Verdun Paris 1925

R Menager Les Forts de Moulainville et de Douaumont sous les 420 Paris 1936

Michelin Guide to the Battlefields, Verdun Paris 1919

Ministere de la Guerre, Etat-Major de l'Armee, Service Historique Les Armees Fracaises dans La Grand Guerre, Tome IV and Annexes Paris 1931-1935

H Morel-Journel Journald'un Officier de la 74e Division d'Infanterie Montbrison 1922

H Morin and P Andrieu l'Ecoute devant Verdun Paris 1938

Daniel Mornet Tranchess de Verdun Paris 1918

Jaques Mortane Histoire de la Gruerre Aerienne Paris 1921

PA Muenier L'Angoisse de Verdun. Notes d'un Conducteur d'Auto Sanitaire Paris 1918

New York Times. Monthly Magazine. Bound edition New York 1916

Colonel Paquet Dans l'Attente de la Ruee Paris 1928

Paul Painleve j'ai Nomme Foch et Petain Paris 1928

General BE Palat La Grande Guerre sur le Front Occidental, Vols X-XII Paris 1925

Edwin C Parsons The Great Adventure New York 1937

FFG Passaga Verdun dans la Tourmente Paris 1932

Gaston Pastre Trois Ans de Fronts Paris 1918

Colonel Pellegrin La Vie d'une Armee pendant la Grande Guerre Paris 1921

General Percin Le Massacre de notre Infantrerie Paris 1921

J Pericard Verdun Histoire de Combats Paris 1933

Marshal Petain La Bataille de Verdun Verdun 1929

Jean de Pierrefeu French Headquarters, 1915-1918 London 1924

E Pionnier Verdun a la Veille de la Guerre Paris 1917

R Poincare Au Service de la France; Neuf Annees de Souvenirs, Vol VIII Paris 1926-1933

J Poirier La Bataille de Verdun Paris 1922

Georg Queri Die Hammernde Front Berlin 1916

E Radtke Douaumont - Wie es Wirklich war Berlin 1934

Colonel Raynal Le Drame du Fort Vaux Paris 1919

Oskar Regele Fieldmarshal Conrad Munich 1955

Reichsarchiven: (1) W Beumelburg Vol 1 Douaumont Oldenburg 1925, (2) Gold and Reymann Vol XIII Die Tragodie von Verdun 1916, 1 Teil, Die Deutsche Offensiveschlacht Oldenburg 1926, (3) Schwenke and Reymann Vol XIV Die Tragodie von Verdun, 2 Teil, Das Ringen um Fort Vaux Oldenburg 1928 (4) Gold and Reymann Vol XV Die Tragodie von Verdun, Die Zermurbungschlacht; 3 Teil, Toter Mann - Hohe 304; 4 Teil, Thiaumont -Fleury Oldenburg 1929

Reichkriegsministerium Der Weltkrieg, 1914-1918, Vol X Berlin 1936

Pierre Renouvin The Forms of War Government New Haven 1927

Renouvin, Preclin, and Hardy L'Epoque Contemporaine II Paris 1938

Colonel C a C Repington The First World War London 1920s

Quentin Reynolds They Fought for the Sky New York 1957

Hans Ritter Der Luftkrieg Berlin 1926

Henri B Robert Impressions de Guerre d'un Soldat Chretien Paris 1920

Jules Romains Men of Good Will, Vols 15-16, Verdun London 1926

Genral Rouquerol Le Drame de Douaumont Paris 1931

Crown Prince of Bavaria Rupprecht Mein Kriegstagebuch Munich 1929

Sir G. Salisbury-Jones So Full a Glory London 1954

Bernard Serrigny Trente Ans ave Petain Paris 1959

EL Spears Liaison 1914 London 1930

M Stephane Verdun; Ma Derniere Releve au Bois des Caures Paris 1929

Graf Sturgkh I'm Deutschen Grossen HauptquartierLeipzig 1921

Peter Supf Das Buch der deutschen Fluggeschichte Berlin 1935

AJP Taylor The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848-1914 Oxford 1954

H Thimmermann Tatsachenbericht (Verdun, Souville) Munich 1936

Lt. Colonel R de Thomasson Le Preliminaires de Verdun Nancy 1921

A Thomazi Les Marines a Terre Paris 1933

Abbe Thellier de Poncheville Dix Mois a Verdun Paris 1918

Fritz von Unruh Verdun - Opfergang Frankfurt-am-Main 1925

Paul Valery Reponse au Discours de Reception du Marechal Petain l'Academie Fracaise, en 1931 Paris 1931

P Varillon Joffre Paris 1956

F Vial Territoriaux de France Paris 1918

Johannes Werner Boelcke Leipzig 1932

General Weygand (1) Mangin (Discours) Paris 1929 (2) Histoire de l'Armee Francaise Paris 1953

Major von Wienskowski Falkenhayn Berlin 1937

Crown Prince of Germany Wilhelm (1) The Memoirs of the Crown Prince London 1922 (2) My War Experiences London 1922

Wythe Williams Dusk of Europe London 1937

TH Wintringham Mutiny London 1936

Philip Witkop (ed) German Students War Diaries London 1929

Leon Wolff In Flanders Fields London 1959

Wilhelm Ziegler Verdun Hamburg 1936

H Zieser-Beringer Der Einsame Feldherr - Die Wahrheit Uber Verdun Berlin 1934

Hans Zoeberlein Der Glaube an Deutschland Munich 1934

General von Zwehl (1) Maubeuge, Aisne, Verdun Berlin 1921, (2) Erich von Falkenhayn Berlin 1926

Arnold Zweig Education Before Verdun London 1916

*Given that he's put years of publication at the end of his listed sources, I believe he meant 1934 here.

STRENGTHS: 1) Horne has used a LOT of sources, and this is always a good thing. Most of them are books, but these also include memoirs from commanders or books in which letters or journals were collected and could thus serve as primary sources. This extensive use of sources allows for anything that readers may find questionable in Horne's work to go back and check those sources that Horne lists.

2) Horne does not use any of his own works as source material for the book. This is a critical point, especially given how far back Horne goes into the background information leading into the war. By going back into the Franco-Prussian War and its immediate aftermath he could easily go back to his own book "The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune 1870-71" for source material. It'd be easy... but such scholarship could leave a historian open to charges of bias... which Mosier was guilty of. However, by not citing his own work, I would assume that Horne actually did his work and the interpretation he presents in the book is thus his interpretation of his research and not his interpretation of his own work.

3) A wide source range with regard to when his sources were written. He has a lot of sources that go back to the timeframe around the war and its immediate aftermath, which is necessary, but he also has sources that were written as late as the early 1960s when he was likely working on the research for the book. In this, for his time, Horne wasn't using only "dated" information... and to a great extent, much of the sources he researched wouldn't be "dated" today. That might be more in how the information is interpreted...

4) The list is simple and easy to follow, allowing anyone to easily see the sources used.

WEAKNESSES:1) There is a bit weak organization in the listing of his sources in that one really cannot easily tell what sources were primary sources and what sources were secondary sources. We can figure that several of them would count as primary sources, but unless one is super familiar with all of the sources uses... one may not be able to easily tell which are primary and which are secondary sources.

Though fixing this would be a minor editing job...

2) An odd use of... English sources. And this could go either way that he used too much or used too little. From the stand point of the Battle of Verdun, a battle in which no British unit fought in, Horne really had too many sources concerning Britain's war. From the context of statements made regarding Britain's place in the war... which he should have better explained... Horne doesn't have enough English sources to truly make the comparison he needed to make after making the statement on England taking over after Verdun.

3) One posted source appears to have been dated wrong...

H Colin (1) La Cote 304 et le Mort Homme Paris 134*
There could be no history on Mort Homme and Cote 304 written in 134 that would be relevant to 1916... Though I'm sure this was only a typo and Horne meant 1934

IMPORTANCE/THOUGHTS... Horne has done a good job of providing sources and in a way where their strengths really outweigh the negatives... and while one could potentially make the case that Horne's interpretation of the facts is "dated" today, that's not the same thing as looking at the actual facts themselves, which Horne lists in the book.
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Old December 29th, 2017, 10:19 AM   #43

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The review continues with book comparisons...

Comparisons, The Price of Glory and Verdun: The Lost History of the Most Important Battle of World War I

Now, it'll probably come as no surprise to anyone that through the review of Mosier's book that I'm not a fan of Mosier's work. However, if an older book, like The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916, is still to hold any real value there must be some comparison between newer histories and it. Especially when the older book becomes either popular or successful. That sort of success will mean that later authors will either cite it as a secondary source or will try to argue against it if they feel Horne got his history wrong... And in the case of Verdun: The Lost History of the Most Important Battle of World War I, Mosier had deliberately set out to do just that.


1) Linear coverage of the battle(s):
While there are differences in which specific battle or battles that are being covered in that Mosier adds in the fighting around Verdun before 1916 and after 1916 as major points while Horne makes only minor references to them early on or at the end of his book, both books move in a linear fashion. They both start at a specific point in history and move forward from there. In a way, this can allow any reader to easily follow the events covered in the books without confusion as to the flow of time from start to finish...

2) Germany had lighter casualties: While Mosier spent a good deal of his book arguing that Horne claimed that Germany suffered heavier casualties in the battle... the actual fact is that both Horne and Mosier noted that Germany had lighter casualties in the battle as a whole. Now, Horne does make reference to the points at the end of the battle where the French attacks to retake Douaumont and Vaux in October to December 1916 where the French inflicted greater losses on the Germans than the losses they took, but it needs to be noted that Horne does NOT apply that to the entire battle. When Horne made those comments he was only looking at that particular part of the battle. It is perhaps likely that Mosier read that section and mistook what Horne was referring to and assumed that Horne was talking about the battle as a whole.

3) Allied victory in the war was not the result of the French: And this potentially touches on potential weaknesses for both books as a whole... but in the end BOTH Horne and Mosier do not really credit the French for the Allied victory in World War I. While Horne may provide some commentary that the French won at Verdun with regard to protecting the city and preventing its fall in 1916, that commentary is limited ONLY to the battle in 1916 and at the end of the book Horne adds the commentary that after 1916 the British took over the lion's share of the work on the Western Front and without the Americans the Germans would have had a much better chance of winning... This actually mirrors many of Mosier's statements in his book, and the only real difference is that Mosier constantly repeated it throughout his book and that only real winner at Verdun... or in WWI was the Americans. To add into this, Horne, like Mosier, does not fully explain the statements he makes at the end of the book that could be considered controversial.

4) Petain was the hero of the battle for the French: Both Horne and Mosier provide a lot of praise for Petain's defensive minded tactics at Verdun. In fact Petain is about the only French figure that Mosier gives praise for in his entire book. And with regard to the fighting at Verdun, Horne does provide a great of praise for Petain's generalship and presenting the reasoning for how Petain's tactics were actually benefitting the French.


1) Different starting points:
While both books have a linear flow to them, both books also take very different starting points. While Mosier does cover some of the events that occurred prior to 1900, his book's main focus really starts quickly and much closer to the start of WWI than Horne's does. In contrast, Horne spends a great deal of time on France's history and development immediately after the Franco-Prussian War and how it "recovered" from that war in a way that goes beyond just the development of the forts around Verdun.

2) Different emphasis in the books: Mosier puts a high emphasis on that there were multiple battles around Verdun and makes the point that the 1916 battle that is so well known was not the first or last battle in the region and uses his book to highlight that. Now, while Horne does make mention of fighting in the area prior to 1916 and after 1916, his focus is more on the 1916 battle. The mentions that Horne makes of earlier and later battles is more of a passing mention as he either built up to the 1916 battle or provided legacy and lesson information after the 1916 battle.

3) Exact casualty figures: While both historians note that Germany had lighter casualties in the battle as a whole, of the two, Horne is really the only one to really provide a final tally on the number of casualties that the Germans suffered at Verdun. Mosier provides figures, but these came from much earlier in the battle and provides little to no explanation on them... And this actually is a major problem for Mosier's book as he consistently relies on the argument that Germany suffered lighter casualties than the French and at a rate that Germany could sustain... But he provides no figure for the end of 1916 and certainly not for the end of the war when he provides his random quote from Hindenburg on "who won the war."

4) Who won the Battle of Verdun in 1916: This difference would technically also include the battles prior to 1916 and after 1916 as Mosier uses the same logic for all of them, but because Horne's focus is solely on the 1916 battle... the comparison between the two books would best to focus on just the 1916 battle(s). Just as with the issue of the fighting around Verdun in the war as a whole, Mosier argues that 1916 had two separate battles... The first beginning in February and ending in June with the second being from October to December. And based on his casualty figure calculations, he argues that Germany won the first battle in 1916 easily... and based on the exact front line at the end of 1916 he also argues that Germany won the second battle as well. It represents the entire confusion that his entire book seems to have... as since he argues that Germany was hardly suffering any losses in the war to that date, one would have to assume that Germans wouldn't be suffering from the morale issues at the end of the year that Horne states that they were. The other issue is that Mosier spends so much time defining victory as "inflicting more casualties than you lose" is that he actually changes his criteria for victory so that in order for the French to have won the second battle, the fact that they inflicted greater losses from October to December 1916 was irrelevant, and that they would need to return to the exact positions the Germans had started from in February 1916. In this, Mosier comes off as trying to find excuses to allow the Germans victory...

In contrast, while Horne does make references to the French being the victors of the battle with regard to keeping the Germans OUT of Verdun, in many ways it is balanced with a heavy pessimism that looks at the battle as a whole. The most telling difference is his statement toward the end of the book in which Horne states that there really was NO winner at Verdun. In that sense, if one really insists on defining outcomes to the battle, Horne would call Verdun in 1916 a draw rather than a victory for either side. His references to it being a French victory are more based on how the French viewed the battle.

5) Treatment of Falkenhayn/Joffre: The most telling difference here is that Mosier goes out of his way to praise Falkenhayn's strategy and tactics. He makes some reference the arguments between Falkenhayn and the Eastern Front commanders, but his focus generally focuses on providing an argument that is aimed to rehabilitate Falkenhayn and generally based around Mosier's take on the casualty numbers. His treatment of Joffre is a bit more baffling. He spends nearly all of the book arguing that Joffre was a complete idiot who knew nothing and ends the book saying that France needed a Joffre in 1940 to fend off the Wehrmacht. While this plays to a recognition of Joffre's calm... it's baffling when one considers the attacks that Mosier made on Joffre through the rest of the book.

In contrast, Horne highly critical of both Falkenhayn and Joffre. While he acknowledges Joffre's calm as a major factor in the victory at the First Battle of the Marne in 1914, Horne notes that Joffre's favoring of "all out attacks" was a major part of the problems France had from 1914 to 1915 and that Joffre's efforts to defend the attack on the Somme in 1916 hurt Petain's efforts to actually defend at Verdun. And while Horne acknowledges that the Germans lost fewer men in total at Verdun, he does note that Germany at times DID suffer heavy casualties which he lays at the feet of Falkenhayn... as well as the tactical issues and problems that came from way in which Falkenhayn had planned the attack at Verdun.

6) Treatment of other historians: Both Horne and Mosier may mention earlier or other historians... but the main difference is how they may treat them. Horne remains rather professional and only list their name when making the mention. By contrast, Mosier spends his book actually making attacks on Horne and any other historian that might agree with Horne. In this, Horne is the clear grownup when comparing the two...

In my opinion... Horne's book by a long shot. While The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 is older and could be considered dated in its interpretation, Horne on many points tries to explain his interpretation and remains professional. The name calling and insults that Mosier makes throughout his book is needless and childish. And the fact that Mosier makes little real effort to explain many of his more "out there" statements also makes it difficult to make his the fact that his interpretation of the battle is newer irrelevant. Having a newer opinion doesn't work if you can't explain it... and that's one of the main problems that Mosier has... And in that, Verdun: The Lost History of the Most Important Battle of World War I really doesn't measure up to The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916.

Last edited by Sam-Nary; December 29th, 2017 at 10:22 AM.
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Old December 29th, 2017, 10:56 AM   #44

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As you present both writer , I would lean toward Horne's view about Falkenhayn and Joffre

the French did not loose and this was a great boost to their moral
the Germans spend a great amount of men , material and energy in an inconclusive operation
they could not afford a draw .1916 was the years of the great battle , Verdun , the Brusilov offensive , the Somme , it left Germany stretched , Austria Hungary broken and their resources depleted
in desperation they resorted to unlimited submarine warfare , which also failed

With insight not attacking at Verdun and creating a good reserve would have been wiser 1917 demonstrated that the French Army was very good at breaking itself
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Old December 29th, 2017, 11:37 AM   #45

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Originally Posted by sparky View Post
As you present both writer , I would lean toward Horne's view about Falkenhayn and Joffre

the French did not loose and this was a great boost to their moral
the Germans spend a great amount of men , material and energy in an inconclusive operation
they could not afford a draw .1916 was the years of the great battle , Verdun , the Brusilov offensive , the Somme , it left Germany stretched , Austria Hungary broken and their resources depleted
in desperation they resorted to unlimited submarine warfare , which also failed

With insight not attacking at Verdun and creating a good reserve would have been wiser 1917 demonstrated that the French Army was very good at breaking itself
Mosier would tend to argue that Germany didn't lose but that it soundly won BOTH battles at Verdun in 1916. The issue he has is that he really can't explain HOW they won. He argues that Germany's losses were lower than Frances, and in the review on his book, his estimation was that Germany's losses on the Western Front were insanely low... However, when he gets to the end of his book he provides a Hindenburg quote that explains America winning the war by putting manpower in a way that Germany couldn't equal... but that wouldn't have been a factor if Germany's losses were as miniscule as he claimed they were... And he provides little to know explanation as to why they were that low...

He presented evidence that France's method for counting German casualties was faulty but provided no evidence that Germany's method of counting French casualties was any better... And that is really a consistent problem with Mosier's book in that he has certain points that are good... but they get lost in a sea of insults and exaggeration that pretty much weaken whatever argument Mosier had.

And while Horne may have a more dated interpretation of facts than Mosier, his book isn't lost in those exaggerations and insults. It's why I'd hold Horne's book as better than Mosier's.
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Old December 31st, 2017, 12:34 PM   #46

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The review continues with book comparisons...

Book Comparisons: The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 and Verdun: the Longest Battle of the Great War

We know that Alistair Horne's book is older and for its time it was well regarded as a history of the Battle of Verdun and that Paul Jankowski's book is a newer history. Part of looking into whether or not The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 still has value today is to see how it compares with a newer history, like Verdun: the Longest Battle of the Great War.


1) Professional Attitude:
Both historians may mention other histories and historians in the course of their books, though this may be a bigger part of Jankowski's book than Horne's. The big thing, however, in these mentions is that both Jankowski and Horne retain a very professional demeanor with regard to how they treat other historians. This includes certain points where Jankowski would be more critical of the way Horne had written his history... but unlike Mosier, Jankowski remains professional and polite. In fact, one could actually make the case that Jankowski actually praises Horne in that Jankowski describes The Price of Glory as a classic example of the "old style" of history that Jankowski refers to.

2) The Casualty Ratio: This becomes a major point in the overall argument over "bleeding France white." For the Germans this would require that the French suffer massive casualties that greatly out pace the German losses. But in the end Germany didn't get it and both Jankowski and Horne would in a way touch on that. Horne does it in his presentation of the total casualties suffered at the end of the battle. One can see quite clearly that while the Germans suffered lighter casualties, the French losses weren't THAT much higher than Germany's. Jankowski gets into this with a bit more detail and directly discusses the casualty ratio being near 1:1 in the battle. They go about it in different ways but the message is the same.

3) On Where the French Won: Both Horne and Jankowski give some reference to France "winning" with regard to being able to hold Verdun and gain some prestige from the victory. Jankowski directly refers to it as a "prestige victory" in being able to hold onto the fortress city while Horne makes passing references to that based on how the French and Germans looked at the battle, and particularly with regard to the French.

4) Touching On Society Issues: Jankowski in his book writes and argues that the old "classic histories" provide little to no focus on society matters and that historians like Horne put greater focus on things like the accumulation of shells and the weapons involved and the movement of troops across their respective battle maps. However, while Jankowski may be right that society matters and how the battle affected individual soldiers as people was not Horne's focus... it should be noted that Horne does make some mention of it.

5) Focus on the 1916 Battle: While Horne makes some mention of earlier and later fighting at Verdun, the emphasis for his book is ultimately on the 1916 battle... as is the case for Jankowski's book. He may touch on certain legacy aspects that came after the war, but Jankowski retains a focus on the 1916 battle and its impact.


1) Different Style/Focus of the Book:
Horne rights his book with a very linear flow, starting the book before the battle and ending the book after the battle. In contrast, Jankowski's focus is on aspects of the battle. Individual chapters may flow linearly, but those chapters are on a specific aspect of the battle, which Jankowski ultimately explains is a means to help inspire readers to take a "different" look at the battle. It is an interesting take and with regard to the chapters Jankowski handled it well, however, for those that read my review on Jankowski's book, he would have done better to provide an explanation on what he hoped to accomplish at the beginning of the book rather that at the end...

2) Tone of the Narrative: Horne through much of his book highlights the slaughter in the trenches as the French and Germans battled and uses it as a major part of his narrative. It's a driving and even touching narrative, but this is where his great use of language has the potential to become confusing as it would lend to the impression that the losses and devastation in the battle were actually far worse than they actually were. Now, Horne's end casualty figures are relatively close to Jankowski's and his explanation of those end casualty numbers makes sure that Horne's readers are not "confused" when looking at the impression Horne leaves with regard to the tone of his narrative... But the fact remains that Horne's work carries a certain tone that is almost designed to garner an emotional response at the losses suffered.

Jankowski's tone is very different. He really wasn't looking for the sort of emotional response when looking at the losses sustained in the battle. And in fact when Jankowski is discussing the battle and its losses, he retains the point that Verdun wasn't the bloodiest battle of the war and then goes in depth to look the statistics and the "averages" of the battle He then serves to compare this to other French battles and provides the note that many of these other battles had a higher average daily casualty rate than Verdun did. It provides a point that would show that the losses sustained at Verdun were more due to the number of days the two sides fought there rather that the individual days being pure carnage...

3) Interpretation on Falkenhayn's Plans: The key difference is on the Christmas Memo that was supposedly sent by Falkenhayn to explain the plans for the attack on Verdun. While both historians provide evidence that would at least suggest that the memo didn't exist, Horne through his book generally gives the memo base credit and even repeats the line: "bleed France white." In contrast, Jankowski argues clearly that "bleeding France white" was never the end goal Falkenhayn had in mind. It may have been a possibility that could happen, but it wasn't something that Falkenhayn planned from the start and argues that the memo was likely invented in Falkenhayn's memoirs in order to vindicate himself.

4) Number Of/Length of Chapters: In a way this relates to difference number one, but it is one of note. As Horne progresses through the prelude to the battle, the battle, and the battle's aftermath/legacy, he does so in 28 chapters (30 if you count the preface and epilogue) and that the average length of each chapter is around ten pages. Some may be longer it isn't by much and there are only around two chapters that reach close to twenty pages. In contrast, Jankowski only has 11 chapters (13 if you count the introduction and epilogue) and his average chapter length is much closer to twenty pages per chapter.

This is likely to depend on what you're looking for... As unlike in the comparison between Horne and Mosier, the differences between Horne and Jankowski do not really reduce the value of either book... They really only mark each other as "different" and in that the question then comes down to what you're looking for and your preferences.

If you're looking for a history that is intended to tell the story of the battle from beginning to end, Horne's book is the better book. Verdun: the Longest Battle of the Great War is a good book, but it's jumping around from different aspects of the battle to provide a different look at the battle is likely to confuse readers who aren't already familiar on the battle. And in this The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 does this job much easier and much more clearly.

However, if you're already familiar on the battle and are looking for a viewpoint that is different than just the narrative of Verdun being a bloody slaughter... Jankowski's book is preferable as it was written with that specific intention. Jankowski could have stated that earlier in his book... but that IS the intention of his book, while The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 was one of the classic histories of the battle that Verdun: the Longest Battle of the Great War intends to provide a different look at...

For me personally, as someone who has an interest in military history and particularly in the World Wars, I've enjoyed both books and will have them placed together for ease of future reference...
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Old January 1st, 2018, 02:32 PM   #47

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The review concludes with "strengths and weakness" and my final thoughts on The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 on whether or not the book is still worth it...

(Also note that this is the final review entry... anyone who has had thoughts on the book are perfectly free to add them)

Strengths and Weaknesses...

With each chapter review I have provided strengths and weaknesses for that particular chapter. With this entry, I will be looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the book as a whole. Strengths and weaknesses from individual chapters may or may not play a factor in the book as a whole as they are often relative only to that chapter in question...


1) A singular narrative:
Throughout the book, Horne retains a singular focus and narrative with regard to how he tells the story of the Battle of Verdun. In a way, he treats the battle as a tragedy that serves to emphasize the devastation that went about the battle, both in terms of the material destroyed and the lives lost on both sides. And it's something that Horne doesn't stray from in the course of historical narrative. While there may be interludes regarding the French and German home fronts, the war in the air, or how events on the Eastern Front may have shaped events at Verdun, these interlude chapters all serve to help tie the book together. In this, Horne has presented a singular focus that doesn't waiver from one tone to another, and that consistency makes the book stronger.

2) Beautifully used language: This relates to strength one, but it's more a point that reinforces it than is truly part of strength one...

Throughout the book, this strength was one that was a frequent strength for individual chapters, and I'd argue that it's probably a strength that could be applied to every chapter in the book. This reinforces the first strength in the fact that it can help relate and convey the specific emotions that Horne wishes his reader to have as they progress through the battle and all its horrific events. It also makes the way Horne describes "who won" the battle all the more touching.

This style also serves to make the book highly engaging and Horne does it in a way that doesn't really cause too much loss in the way of detail. In this, a reader will not only learn on about the battle but will be drawn into the book, which is actually quite beneficial as it then accomplishes both goals that any non-fiction author will want... The reader wants to read the book and learns from it. And this can be difficult. Some may have a great grasp of the English language and provide a stirring narrative, but end up losing detail to do it. Some may provide a lot of factual detail but fail to make the narrative engaging and thus the reader loses interest. Horne does a great job of providing detail and making it engaging.

3) Providing balance between France and Germany: This is something that Horne does a very good job on, though the way it is done often shifts through the course of the book. Some chapters are very French centric while then balanced by German centric chapters while others take the point of both factions in largely equal measure. This is something very critical with regard to the fact that the battle included the two countries and providing that balance provides a general image of being impartial.

And impartiality is something to be commended. Mosier's frequent praise of German methods and actions through the course of his book, for example, ended up serving to betray a clear bias on his part and weakened the ability of his book to provide information that would run counter to what was already known... because Mosier made it seem like the Germans never made a mistake and everything that happened in 1916 was a spectacular German victory... It was, as if the other side didn't exist in Mosier's narrative...

But Horne has retained a good balance with both France and Germany and this is a great benefit for his book, as it shows that Horne has been impartial in his analysis and has let the facts define his narrative and not his bias.

4) Complete coverage of the military events of the battle: Horne takes his readers through the beginning of the battle in February 1916 all the way through to the end of the battle in December 1916. In this, one can easily follow the battle's events and learn exactly what happened in the course of the battle... and he manages to touch on the major events of the battle.


1) The highly descriptive language:
This may come as something as a shock as essentially strength 2 is also weakness 1. But it is relative to how Horne uses his ability to describe the situation and shape the narrative. And in this, this relates to the fact that Horne's narrative tends to paint the battle as though every day was a massed slaughter that left large numbers of people dead... or at least creates the impression of such events. Horne does provide factual information and statistical information that would at times run counter to that impression... but in that sense he still leaves readers with the impression that every day at Verdun was a slaughter...

2) Dated interpretation of facts: And a lot of this would relate to things like the Christmas memo and the Falkenhayn's line of "bleed France white." Horne repeats this frequently through the course of the book, particularly when referring to either Falkenhayn's mistakes or base decisions. It's something that has frequently been used in the histories of the Battle of Verdun, but is solely based on Falkenhayn's memoirs written after the war and likely written to justify Falkenhayn's decisions and/or excuse the mistakes he made... which is far more likely to mean that "bleed France white" was not written in December 1915.

What makes this point even odder is that with regard to the Christmas memo, Horne even provides information that would present the understanding that the memo might not exist, based on what the Kaiser claimed on the memo's existence... Which is critical when one considers that Falkenhayn stated that the Christmas memo was sent TO the Kaiser...

In other ways this could also relate to his treatment of Joffre. While Joffre's belief in "all out offensives" were something that wouldn't benefit the French in the course of the battle (and WWI in general), there are periodic times when Horne does take his criticism to the point where it would imply that beyond being calm Joffre had no knowledge on how to lead an army. In a way it is a criticism that reflects Joffre's offensives in 1915 that didn't do much more than lead to French casualties... but at the same time it's one that isn't entirely true... As one must remember that the Chantilly Conference in December 1915 was one that put together a combined Allied strategy for 1916 and carried the assumption that Germany could not defeat ALL the Allied powers at once, which was true. In this, while Joffre may have been a flawed commander, being calm was not his only virtue.

And in others it could ultimately reflect interpretations made by others with regard to the actions of others... And this can be especially problematic with regard to the memoirs of various generals and the papers they left behind, particularly with regard to the rivalry that was frequently described in the course of the book between various officers on BOTH sides. In this the criticism or praise written by some probably should have been taken with a grain of salt rather than being presented as they were... See: Review of Alistair Horne's "The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916" for example.

3) Poorly explained closing: This relates to his references to Britain taking over the war after 1916 and Allied victory being impossible without the Americans. Both have the potential to be controversial and needed far greater explanation than Horne provided. In that sense, it would have been better to leave them out as the weakened the closing to the book and made it weaker than it needed to be.

4) Translation issues: Throughout the course of the book, Horne provides various entries, quotes, and phrases in either French or German. The quotes themselves can be interesting... however, the real problem is that Horne doesn't translate all of them... In fact most of them are NOT translated into English. For readers that understand French and German perfectly, that may not be a problem, but for those that don't understand French or German quite as easily... it's far more difficult...

IMPORTANCE/CLOSING THOUGHTS... It should be noted that while the book's strengths and weaknesses are even... many of the weaknesses do not necessarily negate the book's weaknesses. Weakness number 1 is really more of a warning to be careful and not get too drawn into the narrative and weakness number 4 is more cosmetic than anything else and the lack of translation doesn't take anything away from the narrative as a whole. It should also be noted that while some of Horne's interpretations may be "dated," they aren't necessarily wrong at every turn... and at times Horne does present information in a way that is similar to how more recent historians have presented... Horne's exact method may be different, but the information in those cases is still the same... (See: Review of Alistair Horne's "The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916")

And at the same time the strengths that the book has do carry on. It is highly engaging and powerful that can and will touch you when you read those lines. The fact that specific lines from The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 have been used in Indy Niedell's "Great War" series on YouTube shows how strongly those specific lines have carried on through the years. And Horne does this while maintaining an impartial view, which is good, regardless of the information you have and when it was released.

IS IT STILL WORTH IT?It's normally at this point in the review where I would give you my opinion on if the book is worth reading. However, with the previous reviews regarding the Battle of Verdun have dealt with historians that are far more contemporary than Alistair Horne. Both Mosier's Verdun: The Lost History of the Most Important Battle of WWI and Jankowski's Verdun: the Longest Battle of the Great War were written earlier in the 2000s. The information they had available to them was newer and their interpretations especially so.

The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916, however, is different. It was written and published first in 1963 more than 55 years ago this calendar year (2018). In this... I've gotten to this book a bit late to let people know as to whether or not it was worth it when it was first written. My best commentary on that would be to cite the "review" put on the book's front cover:

"Verdun was the bloodiest battle in history... The Price of Glory is the essential book on the subject."

-Sunday Times

-Placed on the front cover right below the title.
In this... and based on the book's strengths, the book was worth it in 1963 when it was first published.

My point in this review is to provide an opinion on whether or not the book is STILL worth buying, 55 years later. And in this, it has certainly had an impact that keeps a great part of the book important with regard to its impact, and it should be noted while the interpretation that Horne has with regard to certain things may be dated... it is not a flaw that entirely goes across the entire book. Is it still the "essential book" on the subject? No. The time and dated interpretations do weaken that... However, because of the strength of its impact that there is a lot of Horne's work that wouldn't be considered dated ... is that The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 is still worth reading for any scholar on World War I, if only for seeing how an engaging narrative is written... and would sit well next to newer histories to show on how the history of the Battle of Verdun has progressed.
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 09:36 AM   #48

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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
IMPORTANCE/CLOSING THOUGHTS... It should be noted that while the book's strengths and weaknesses are even... many of the weaknesses do not necessarily negate the book's weaknesses.
This really should be "strengths" not "weaknesses."
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