[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own]
Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War is one of the flood of new works coming out about World War I this year in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the world’s first truly mechanized war. This book explores the ten month (or eleven, depending on how you count it) battle of Verdun between the Germans and French from February to November 1916.
It consists of eleven chapters arranged thematically that examine different aspects of the battle from the operational movements of the forces involved to the way the battle was described in the contemporary press to the role of the battle in modern memory. There is an extensive appendix on sources, a 29 page list of endnotes and a 20 page bibliography.
Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War is not a battle history in the traditional sense of the word. here is no bow by blow account of the opening days of the battle and the fall of the french forts at Vaux and Duouamont and the subsequent French recapture of much of the contested ground over the course of the battle. The book is both more and less than battle history at the same time. it examines the battle and the role it played in the course of the war from many angles both military and civilian.
I found the chapters discussing the views of the battle by the French and German commands especially revealing. The standard account is that the Germans intended all along for Verdun to be a battle of attrition and that the French chose to fight so hard there as a matter of honor. That myth is exploded in these two chapters and the way in which the battle became a matter of prestige and developed a logic of it’s own is explored in detail. Given the level of casualties on both sides that the battle evolved into one of prestige makes sense.
Even more revealing is the discussion of the various ways in which the battle was portrayed by the media. A good picture of the way in which the media can sway public opinion and force policy decisions is described in the media portrayals of the Battle at Verdun. The last part of the book that examines the way the memory of the battle has been shaped and its amazing transformation from a symbol of french determination to a landmark of multiculturalism and a monument to the futility of war is revealing in the extreme.
Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War is well-written and logically presented and while it is not traditional battle history it is rewarding to read nonetheless. Verdun was one of the greatest blood-lettings of World War I, though not the greatest as it has been said, that was the opening months of the war. It is time for an objective re-examination of this supposedly pivotal battle that in the end achieved nothing of strategic significance, unless you think killing off a large cohort of enemy troops is strategic results. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in World War I and even more to people who want to understand how the perceptions of wars and battles are shaped more by those who were not there than than by those who were.
[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own]
I get 5-10 requests a month from publishers and authors to review their books here on B&BR and usually accept 3-4 of them because I don’t have as much time to read as I would like. When Richard Peters, the author of Power Games: Operation Enduring Unity I contacted me and inquired about reviewing his book I had a stack of 5 other books I was working through and initially almost turned him down for lack of time. Man, am I glad I did not. Power Games is one of those rare fiction books, for me anyway, that grabs you from the start and won’t let go. I read the whole book in a marathon overnight session because I could not put it down.
The premise of the book is the story of the opening months of the second Civil War in America. The book starts with a botched assassination and tings spiral out of control from there. The divided and fractured nature of current American politics is shown for the failure waiting to happen that it is. as through a series of plausible steps the country swings from disaffection with the results of an election to open rebellion.
The action is non-stop and believable and the author’s experience as a combat vet is clearly evident by his realistic descriptions of combat itself. Just as realistic is the description of politics and journalism. Mr. Peters, grasps the essential corruption of current American society and shows how that corruption can lead to disunion when there are no leaders worthy of the name on the national stage.
The quality of the writing is outstanding, I was constantly kept in mind of the works of other writers such as Tom Kratman, John Ringo, and Michael Z. Williamson when reading this. His book is easily as good and s well written as any major published military or sci-fi writer. I have found another author to add to my list of people who I will eagerly await there next offering.
As an added bonus, Mr Peters is donating the profits from the book to the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, a charity that supports wounded and il military members at the US Military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. That is a cause I, as a veteran can support wholeheartedly.
I highly recommend this book. It is available on Amazon.com as both a hardcopy and for Kindle.
This is what poses as journalism in the disgenic idiocracy of today’s Western world : here.
They aren’t even embarrassed that they are quoting an author that they haven’t read.
If NRO wants to cut and paste the following comments, I suggest they do that, especially considering that this is the age of twitter journalism and that it is more important to Bolshevik-purge your only decent intellectual to tow the line in PC thinking than to actually read the books you are quoting from in our modern society.
Here may be some reasons why Putin has taken the Crimea (perhaps he actually has read Clausewitz?)
One country may support another’s cause, but will never take it so seriously as it takes its own.
The Crimea has no value to the USA, so the dam that is needed to prop up the bloodthirsty yoke of Russia will not be applied.
Timidity will do a thousand times more damage in war than audacity.
Putin knows that his opponents are professional talkers with soft, gentle hands and that have no intent to act with resolve.
Or maybe this one, since its on the first page:
war is such a dangerous business that the mistakes which come from kindness are the very worst.
The 9th Company is the Russian Full Metal Jacket.
It starts of in bootcamp and ends in an inhospitable landscape fighting guerillas in unconventional warfare. It is a fictional portrayal of The Battle for Hill 3234.
That being said, the value of this film lies in what can be gleaned not from the similarities with the former film, but with the differences.
First of all, we are introduced to Russian culture in the form of dedovshchina, a term which encapsulates the institutions of the former Soviet Union ( and which continue to this day).
Russian hierarchies have their cultural inheritance in the gulag, and in The Bitch Wars. A brutal, and demoralizing structure is created where only the most ruthless and sociopathic element rise to the top.
Second of all, we have a very clear image of the Majahideen fighting tactics. Majahideen fighters are absolutely unbeholden to death; they are experts at using the mountainous landscape, and are capable of launching attacks where they can disapear into elaborate cave systems without a moment’s warning.
Children are often actual beligerants, at an age where Western children are still playing with legos.
This film is pertinent for an idea of what American troops are facing in Afghanistan (it is so superior to the Robert Redford fiasco, and I refuse to name the latter film).
It is also pertinent to understand the Russian attitude towards non-Russians, whom they deam as being in need of help from their benevolent hand (think Ukraine at this moment).
I recommend this film.