One of Britain’s greatest historians, Sir Alistair Horne, CBE, is the author of several famous books on French history as well as a two-volume life of Harold Macmillan.
The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916; Revised Editionby Alistair Horne
The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 is the second book of Alistair Horne's trilogy, which includes The Fall of Paris and To Lose a Battle and tells the story of the great crises of the rivalry between France and Germany. The battle of Verdun lasted ten months. It was a battle in which at least 700,000 men fell, along a front of fifteen miles. Its aim was less to defeat the enemy than bleed him to death and a battleground whose once fertile terrain is even now a haunted wilderness. Alistair Horne's classic work, continuously in print for over fifty years, is a profoundly moving, sympathetic study of the battle and the men who fought there. It shows that Verdun is a key to understanding the First World War to the minds of those who waged it, the traditions that bound them and the world that gave them the opportunity. 'Verdun was the bloodiest battle in history ... The Price of Glory is the essential book on the subject'
Sunday Times 'It has almost every merit ... Horne sorts out complicating issues with the greatest clarity. He has a splendid gift for depicting individuals'
A.J.P. Taylor, Observer 'A masterpiece'
The New York Times 'Compellingly told ... Alastair Horne uses contemporary accounts from both sides to build up a picture of heroism, mistakes, even farce'
Sunday Telegraph 'Brilliantly written ... very readable; almost like a historical novel - except that it is true'
Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery One of Britain's greatest historians, Sir Alistair Horne, CBE, is the author of a trilogy on the rivalry between France and Germany, The Price of Glory, The Fall of Paris and To Lose a Battle, as well as a two-volume life of Harold Macmillan.
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By all accounts, this book is a classic and is widely quoted in most contemporary books on World War I. The author, Alistair Horne, does a suberb job analyzing and reporting the entire terrifying, brutal battle. Horne starts off by first by explaining the French army's proclivity for reckless offensive action, despite its abysmal record since the war's beginning. Then Horne examines Falkenhayn and his reason for choosing the attrition strategy, i.e. the impossibility of decisive breakthrough on the Western Front. (Incidentally, Falkenhayn's breakthrough assessment -not strategy - was probably correct. A war-winning breakthrough on the Western Front was a mirage for the entire war.) The book outlines the German's extensive and rapid build up of human and material resources and their careful security measures. But most importantly, each of the leaders (Falkenhayn, Joffre, Crown Prince, Knobelsdorf, de Castelnau, Petain, Neville, Mangin) involved is thoughtfully evaluated and their actions involved in the battle scrutinized. With these critical elements in place, Horne then goes on to give a blow-by-blow account of all the important actions ( during the siege-like battle. The most fascinating account involves the capture of Fort Vaux; Raynal and his French defenders fanatically defied the Germans' in a week's worth of unbelievably desperate underground fighting. Horne's outstanding book is probably the best battle account of World War I, well-researched and engagingly written. The book has a few maps and several photos which show the battleground and the principal military leaders. Horne gives Petain credit for his vital logistical groundwork in initially organizing woefully inadequate French defenses. He also shows us that Knobelsdorf, the Crown Prince's chief-of-staff, was the real villain who refused to call off the German attacks despite massive casualties and lack of progress. The book ends by giving a brief history of each of the leaders after the battle, which I found very satisfying. I heartily recommend this excellent book!
Probably the standard work on the savage Battle of Verdun. Horne writes a lucid and very readable history on a complicated battle with its attendant complicated issues.This work may only prove the point that most leaders of the 1914-1918 military mind set were modern neanderthals--little difference from the cave-man days. The monumental stupidity on both sides are clearly retold with the resultant appalling loss of life. All wars are bad in itself, but the First World War can stand out as the pinnacle of industrial progress which were not match by progressive military tactics. This is truly tragic history where the era's 'flower of youth and manhood' were sacrificed in the altar of national pride, national honor and national glory. The one balancing act that probably need be done in this remarkable work be would be more additional footage on the German side--sometimes it is too one sided. This does not detract in its marvellous telling of an unnecessary battle into great history.