Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War

Paperback | September 16, 2016

byPaul Jankowski

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At seven o'clock in the morning on February 21, 1916, the ground in northern France began to shake. For the next ten hours, twelve hundred German guns showered shells on a salient in French lines. The massive weight of explosives collapsed dugouts, obliterated trenches, severed communicationwires, and drove men mad. As the barrage lifted, German troops moved forward, darting from shell crater to shell crater. The battle of Verdun had begun. In Verdun, historian Paul Jankowski provides the definitive account of the iconic battle of World War I. A leading expert on the French past, Jankowski combines the best of traditional military history-its emphasis on leaders, plans, technology, and the contingency of combat-with the newer socialand cultural approach, stressing the soldier's experience, the institutional structures of the military, and the impact of war on national memory. Unusually, this book draws on deep research in French and German archives; this mastery of sources in both languages gives Verdun unprecedented authorityand scope. In many ways, Jankowski writes, the battle represents a conundrum. It has an almost unique status among the battles of the Great War; and yet, he argues, it was not decisive, sparked no political changes, and was not even the bloodiest episode of the conflict. It is said that Verdun madeFrance, he writes; but the question should be, What did France make of Verdun? Over time, it proved to be the last great victory of French arms, standing on their own. And, for France and Germany, the battle would symbolize the terror of industrialized warfare, "a technocratic Moloch devouring itschildren," where no advance or retreat was possible, yet national resources poured in ceaselessly, perpetuating slaughter indefinitely.

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From the Publisher

At seven o'clock in the morning on February 21, 1916, the ground in northern France began to shake. For the next ten hours, twelve hundred German guns showered shells on a salient in French lines. The massive weight of explosives collapsed dugouts, obliterated trenches, severed communicationwires, and drove men mad. As the barrage lift...

Paul Jankowski is Raymond Ginger Professor of History at Brandeis University. His many books include Stavinksy: A Confidence Man in the Republic of Virtue and Shades of Indignation: Political Scandals in France, Past and Present.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pagesPublished:September 16, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190619716

ISBN - 13:9780190619718

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"Paul Jankowski's Verdun is the first major study of the battle to appear in English for many years, and the first to draw fully on archival research on both sides. Jankowski presents a thoughtful, original, and moving account, full of insights into the course of the fighting and itssubsequent commemoration and impact." --David Stevenson, author of Cataclysm:The First World War as Political Tragedy and With our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918