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The definitive account of World War I's longest and most iconic battle, from its prosecution to its long-term impact.
The battle of Verdun was the longest battle of World War I—and a clash that has come define the futility of the fighting on the Western front. In Verdun, Paul Jankowski provides the definitive account of the battle, combining the best of traditional military history—its emphasis on leaders, plans, technology, and outcomes—with the added focus of the soldiers’ experiences and the the effect of war on national memory.
The battle represents a conundrum. While it was not decisive, sparked no political changes, and was not the war’s bloodiest engagement, it was the clash that came to symbolize the terror of industrialized warfare. Jankowki draws on a vast reserve of sources to shed light on this iconic battle and its enormous impact.
“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, author of Washington’s Crossing
“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