Synopses & Reviews
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 communication wires, 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 social and 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 authority and 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 made France, 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 its children," where no advance or retreat was possible, yet national resources poured in ceaselessly, perpetuating slaughter indefinitely.
"On February 21, 1916, a million shells descended on the trenches surrounding the French city of Verdun; German troops advanced a few miles until stopped by rain, mud, and resistance. Both nations poured in reinforcements, and months of attacks and counterattacks produced massive casualties but only modest German advances. By December, French forces recovered most of the lost ground. Although France celebrates the Battle of Verdun as a great victory, historians agree it had no political impact and decided little, if anything, in the wider war. Verdun remains the epitome of senseless industrial slaughter, writes Jankowski, professor of history at Brandeis University (Shades of Indignation: Political Scandals in France), in an engrossing history that focuses less on the fighting than its political and cultural background. Most French and German people at the time believed that national survival was at stake, and while some of the suffering soldiers agreed, many dissented as well. Drawing even more heavily on archives, letters, and journals than Alistair Horne in his classic 1962 The Price of Glory, Jankowski has written a superb, definitive popular account of Verdun through the eyes of soldiers, military leaders, and citizens of the two nations." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Although southern Poland and western Ukraine are not often thought of in terms of decisive battles in World War I, the impulses that precipitated the Battle for Galicia in August 1914andmdash;and the unprecedented carnage that resultedandmdash;effectively doomed the Austro-Hungarian Empire just six weeks into the war.
In Fall of the Double Eagle, John R. Schindler explains how Austria-Hungary, despite military weakness and the foreseeable ill consequences, consciously chose war in that fateful summer of 1914. Through close examination of the Austro-Hungarian military, especially its elite general staff, Schindler shows how even a war that Vienna would likely lose appeared preferable to the andldquo;foul peaceandrdquo; the senior generals loathed. After Serbia outgunned the polyglot empire in a humiliating defeat, and the offensive into Russian Poland ended in the massacre of more than four hundred thousand Austro-Hungarians in just three weeks, the empire never recovered. While Austria-Hungaryandrsquo;s ultimate defeat and dissolution were postponed until the autumn of 1918, the late summer of 1914 on the plains and hills of Galicia sealed its fate.
On the streets of Paris one day in July 1918, an American doughboy, Sgt. Jimmy Donovan, befriended a stray dog that he named Rags. No longer an unwanted street mutt, Rags became theand#160;mascot to the entire First Division of the American Expeditionary Force and a friend to the American troops who had crossed the Atlantic to fight. Rags was more than a scruffy face and a wagging tail, however. The little terrier mix was with the division at the crucial battle of Soissons, at the Saint-Mihiel offensive, and finally in the blood-and-mud bath of the Meuse-Argonne, during which he and his guardian were wounded. Despite being surrounded by distraction and danger, Rags learned to carry messages through gunfire, locate broken communications wire for the Signal Corps to repair, and alert soldiers to incoming shells, saving the lives of hundreds of American soldiers. Through it all, he brought inspiration to men with little to hope for, especially in the bitter last days of the war.
From Stray Dog to World War I Hero covers Ragsandrsquo;s entire life story, from the bomb-filled years of war through his secret journey to the United States that began his second life, one just as filled with drama and heartache. In years of peace, Rags served as a reminder to human survivors of what held men together when pushed past their limits by the horrors of battle.
About the Author
Grant Hayter-Menzies is the author of several books, including The Empress and Mrs. Conger: The Uncommon Friendship of Two Women and Two Worlds; Lillian Carter: A Compassionate Life; and Shadow Woman: The Extraordinary Career of Pauline Benton. Pen Farthing was named the 2014 CNN Hero of the Year and is the founder and chairman of Nowzad Dogs, a nonprofit organization that reunites soldiers with the stray dogs and cats they took in during combat. Maj.and#160;Gen.and#160;Paul E. Funk II is a commanding general of the First Infantry Division in the U.S. Army and has commanded the Special Forces units with military detection dogs while in Afghanistan.
Table of Contents
I. The Three Hundred Days of Verdun
II. Verdun under German Eyes
III. Verdun under French Eyes
IV. The Offensive Trap
V. The Prestige Trap
VI. The Attritional Trap
VII. The Nightmare
IX. Warning Signals
XI. Circles of Loyalty