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

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

3.7 11
by Winston Groom
     
 

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A Storm in Flanders is novelist and prizewinning historian Winston Groom's gripping history of the four-year battle for Ypres in Belgian Flanders, the pivotal engagement of World War I that would forever change the way the world fought -- and thought about -- war. This is Groom's account of what would become the most dreaded place on earth. In 1914, Germany launched… See more details below

Overview

A Storm in Flanders is novelist and prizewinning historian Winston Groom's gripping history of the four-year battle for Ypres in Belgian Flanders, the pivotal engagement of World War I that would forever change the way the world fought -- and thought about -- war. This is Groom's account of what would become the most dreaded place on earth. In 1914, Germany launched an invasion of France through neutral Belgium -- and brought the wrath of the world upon itself. Ypres became a place of horror, heroism, and terrifying new tactics and technologies: poison gas, tanks, mines, air strikes, and the unspeakable misery of trench warfare. Drawing on the journals of the men and women who were there, Winston Groom has penned a breathtaking drama of politics, strategy, and the human heart. 16 pages of black-and-white historical photographs are featured.

Editorial Reviews

Stephen W. Sears
Groom is ambitious in intent but modest in presentation. Rather than a lengthy annotated monograph, this is a storyteller's narrative of handy size. In fewer than 300 pages, in what is in essence a primer for an American audience, he treats this singular four-year series of campaigns as a metaphor for the Great War...
The Boston Globe
Library Journal
Groom paints a vividly sickening picture of war at the beginning of the modern era. Over four terrible years during World War I, the Ypres Salient absorbed blood the way a dry sponge absorbs water. In this place, which Groom, the author of Forrest Gump and the Civil War history Shrouds of Glory, compares to a "meat grinder," hundreds of thousands of human beings were chewed up some were spit out, some swallowed. The absolute misery of the place the mud, the incessant rain, the stench and fear of death is palpable through Groom's clear prose and that of the soldiers from whose diaries and letters he quotes. In relatively few pages, Groom captures the epic blundering, mismanagement, and waste of life that characterized the war on the Western Front. Though written primarily from the British perspective, Groom's book provides clarifying insights into the actions of the French and Germans as well. Perhaps of greatest use to students of history is the author's findings of inconsistency and bias in the official record of both the British and the Germans. Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August and Robert K. Massie's Dreadnought cover this ground in greater detail, recommending this book primarily for public and undergraduate libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/02.] Michael F. Russo, Louisiana State Univ. Libs., Baton Rouge Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A somber portrait of early modern war in one of its most hellish manifestations. Best known for the novel Forrest Gump (1986), Groom is also a seasoned writer on historical subjects (Shrouds of Glory, 1995, etc.). The present study brings us little that other histories do not-Stanley Weintraub's recent Silent Night, for instance, focuses on the famed Christmas truce of 1914, while John Keegan's The First World War gives extensive coverage on the Ypres Salient-but it relates the terrible events of four years with fluency and sometimes unpleasant vividness. From Groom we learn that a single 1917 battle along the Belgian front "enriched the Flanders earth with the corpses of some 228,000 Englishmen and Germans, not to mention about 20,000 French, all in an area not much longer than Manhattan Island." He adds that we still do not have an accurate number of total deaths in the Ypres area, and that statisticians can only posit the true, and staggering, extent of the bloodshed. All those corpses over four years lent the trenches on both sides an infernal aspect, which Groom evokes with well-chosen quotes from the combatants: a Canadian soldier relates that the "whole salient had an odor beyond description," which does not stop Groom from doing his best to describe the smells, sights, and sounds of a battle that seemed to go on forever. (Another Canadian soldier, John Macrae, wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields," the Ypres front's best-known literary monument.) Groom's account, full of detail and the smell of gunsmoke, is expertly paced and free of dull stretches, unlike more technical studies of the Ypres Salient: he knows just when enough is enough, when it's time to pull his lens from close-upsof hand-to-hand fighting and exploding Germans up to the big picture of Ypres in the overall context of WWI. A fine narrative that will be of much interest to students of military history.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555847807
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
12/01/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
255,388
File size:
6 MB

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