The Price of Glory By Alistair Horn
Finished on 2/19/2017
Genres: WWI Battle Study, Military Analysis, Verdun, WWI
10 Months of Ceaseless Bloodshed Resulting in Almost 1,000,000 Casualties and the Deaths of 250,000 out of 5
Verdun. Arguably the worst ten months in human history. Countless gallons of human blood was spilt in rural France, the wealth of nations spent for no noticeable gain. This ten month long battle was massively influential on military history as a whole, as flamethrowers and phosgene gas were first used here and WWI style airplane dogfighting reached their pinnacle above the blasted fields of eastern France. A case could be argued that the Central Powers lost WWI at this battle, for Germany invested too heavily on a battle that they eventually lost. I don’t think this is a good argument, for in truth this battle was such a debacle that I believe both France and German lost Verdun.
The Price of Glory by Alistair Horne is a 350 page long in-depth analysis of the battle of Verdun, including everything from quotations to troop movements to analysis of the effects of new styles of weaponry. I found the hundreds of quotations to be particularly useful, giving context to the proceedings of the battle.
Horne did a fantastic job of demonstrating that Verdun was the ultimate battle of attrition. He gave the statistics of lives lost, showed the killing fields, quoted the misery of the troops, and even described the almost tangible scent of decaying human corpses everpresent on the battlefield. He did not hold back the grim details, such as the universally present fractured corpses, so the reader almost gets to participate in the nightmare that was Verdun.
If I have one complaint it is that Horne didn’t respect the German officers. For a supposed unbiased description of the battle, he doesn’t hold back on negative character analysis of Germans like Falkenhyn and the Crown Prince. Horne doesn’t do much better with the French (lampooning Joffre in particular), but Horne wears his bias against the Germans on his sleeve in-particular.
This is a great book. Depressing to be sure, but great.