German Strategy and the Path to Verdun: Erich von Falkenhayn and the Development of Attrition, 1870-1916

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The term "Battle of Verdun" has become synonymous with senseless slaughter. This book offers a new perspective on one of the twentieth century's bloodiest battles by examining the development of German military ideas from the end of the Franco-German War in 1871 to the First World War. Its use of recently released German sources held in the Soviet Union since the Second World War sheds new light on German ideas about attrition before and during the First World War.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"stimulating and exciting book" The International History Review Holger H. Herwig, University of Calgary

"The intense faces on the dustjacket of this superb scholarly work portray well the professionalism of German officers watching a military operation. Part of a new series of Cambridge military histories edited by Hew Strachan, German Strategy and the Path to Verdun by Robert T. Foley benefits from records returned by the Soviets in 1988, including copies of diaries kept by major participants." - Michael J. Zeps, S.J. Marquette University

"In many ways a ground-breaking look at Erich von Falkenhayn's contributions to the German war effort while Chief of the Great General Staff, from late 1914 until he was sacked in the aftermath of the failure of his deliberately provoked battle of attrition over Verdun. Marshalling some compelling evidence, the author demonstrates that despite Verdun, Falkenhayn in fact was chiefly responsible for most of Germany's victories during his tenure in command, despite the frequent necessity of beating off efforts to replace him from enthusiasts for Hindenburg and Ludendorf; the Gorlice-Tarnow offensive, the Warsaw operation, the destruction of Serbia, and a series of successful defensive operations in the west. And then the series of complex misjudgements and mistakes—not all by Falkenhayn—that led to Verdun. An interesting book, that offers some useful insights into the inner workings of the German high command." - The NYMAS Review

"This is truly an engaging, well-argued and nuanced analysis that reveals much not only about the Verdun Campaign, but also about the structure, fragmentation and disfunctionality of the Imperial German political and military systems." - Len Shurtleff

"The book is truly a fascinating effort well worth reading" - Dr. Douglas V. Johnson II

"An academic study of military thought, Foley's work is impressively accessible o the non-specialist reader. It merits reading by intellectual and cultural, as well as military, historians. It is based on an immersion in published nad unpublished primary sources." - Daniel Todman, Queen Mary University of London, England

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521841931
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/14/2005
  • Series: Cambridge Military Histories Series
  • Pages: 316
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert T. Foley is a Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department, King's College London at the Joint Services Command and Staff College. He is the editor and translator of Alfred von Schlieffen's Military Writings, 2002.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Table of ranks; Maps; Introduction; 1. The Volkskreig in German military thought; 2. The (re)birth of Ermattungsstrategie; 3. The short-war belief; 4. The rise of Stellungskrieg; 5. Competing strategic visions; 6. Attack in the east; 7. Defence in the west; 8. Verdun: the plan; 9. Verdun: the execution; 10. Verdun: the failure; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

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