Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Road to Verdun: World War I's Most Momentous Battle and the Folly of Nationalism” as Want to Read:
The Road to Verdun: World War I's Most Momentous Battle and the Folly of Nationalism
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Road to Verdun: World War I's Most Momentous Battle and the Folly of Nationalism

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  100 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
On February 21, 1916, the Germans launched a surprise offensive at Verdun, an important fortress in northeastern France, sparking a brutal and protracted conflict that would claim more than 700,000 victims. The carnage had little impact on the course of the war, and Verdun ultimately came to symbolize the absurdity and horror of trench warfare.

Ian Ousby offers a radical re
...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 10th 2003 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Road to Verdun, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Road to Verdun

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dimitri
Buyer beware: his book is NOT a classic study of the battle of Verdun (February-October 1916) and has a distinct schizophrenic feel. Ousby did not set out to write a battle history, but couldn’t properly examine the mentality surrounding Verdun without dipping a toe in the trenches. Unfortunately, the two halves don’t quite come together, even if the middle chapters that concern themselves with the fight proper also focus with martial vocabulary such as tenir, cran & défaillance which was ...more
Jerome
Sep 20, 2013 Jerome rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ousby’s book is less a conventional military history of the battle of Verdun than a study in the sociology of the war, and has a greater emphasis on questions of “why.” Ousby’s main goal is to explain how the historical events and the rise of nationalism made the battle possible, which is both interesting and at times seemingly irrelevant: if you want to read a history of the battle of Verdun that includes Julius Caesar, the Gauls, the Franks, Louis XIV, Louis XVI, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Napole ...more
Dave Hoff
Oct 21, 2012 Dave Hoff rated it it was ok
A hard read about a battle fought in trenches for years costing thousands of lives, it was finally won by the Americans 3 days before the Armistice. My interest was because my dad, an ambulance driver in the U.S. Army was attached to the French Army div. "Cock of Verdun" wearing a red rooster on his shoulder. He arrived at the battlefield after the Armistice was signed.
John
How was a battle like Verdun possible? The question has been answered often in its political, military, and technological aspects, but here Ian Ousby sets out to find its social origins.

At first this might sound odd, but consider that about 70% of the French army was rotated through the meat grinder of Verdun during the battle of February to December 1916 with at least 150,000 dying there and leaving the front line little changed. Why did men put themselves through this?

We know that politics a
...more
Kristi Thielen
Aug 19, 2013 Kristi Thielen rated it it was amazing
Densely written but excellent book about one of the most horrific battles of all times: the historical underpinnings, why it was fought, how officers and men prepared to fight it, what they experienced as opposed to what they expected to experience and most important of all, what it came to mean in the national mythology of the French and German people.

That the battle of Verdun - that the Great War - led to loss of life that is staggering, isn't a revelation to anyone who has read about World W
...more
Robert Allen
There is a lot of good information but just not much about the battle of Verdun. The author does a good job at presenting quotes and references that describe the horor of the battle and the effects on the men. He also provides a good insight into how the men came to distrust the upper leadership and politicians. Most of the time the book just swings from as early as the Roman times past WWII. I'm still trying to figure out what Napoleon I, Napoleon III, Louis XIV and Louis XVI had to do with Ver ...more
Maduck831
Jun 09, 2014 Maduck831 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww1
liked it, at first didn't like that the middle chapter moved away from the battle but after going over my notes and reading the prologue i came to appreciate it...imo don't read this without some knowledge of ww1 and verdun...i admittedly didn't know much about verdun going in which might have impacted my initial reaction...while a lot of great ideas are looked at, part of me wishes the author would've just spent time on "one theme" and explored it...i do like that i got some good sources for th ...more
Mikey B.
Sep 02, 2008 Mikey B. rated it really liked it
Shelves: france, world-war-i
A very good book

...on the First World War - among the best that I have read.

It does a very good job of connecting past (1870), present (1916) and future. The emotional side of war in the trenches is well brought out by diary excerpts. The leaders as well as the 'Poilu' are described. The impact of the war of 1870 is explained - Verdun is near Metz which at the time was territory occupied by Germany. European antagonisms are well brought out. The historical flow of France and Germany are well d
...more
Rob Barry
Mar 23, 2016 Rob Barry rated it liked it
I felt that the author appropriately addressed what I had expected. Specifically, to invite the reader to consider whether Verdun was a vindication or indictment of militant nationalism.

The author's narrative kept me engaged and fired my imagination. For example, the imagery associated with a small French unit moving to the front: "They're the next course; it'll be time to serve another before long, since the ogre has a taste for sport."

Well worth the time spent in considering this author's wor
...more
Oliver Kim
Apr 28, 2012 Oliver Kim rated it really liked it
Deeper and more illuminating than a simple battlefield account, this is an excellent and incisive analysis of the powerful force that is nationalism - and its dangers, exemplified by the Battle of Verdun. The novel does have a few quirks, though: its sole focus is the French (the German perspective is hardly considered), and the mid-volume analysis of the post-1870 French national psyche may have fit better at the start of the novel.
Daniel
Jun 05, 2007 Daniel rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Nationalism, WWI, and mass slaughter demonstrated, and pretty aptly explained.
Keturah Stickann
Keturah Stickann rated it it was amazing
Oct 27, 2012
David
David rated it liked it
Jul 27, 2012
Dick Clark
Dick Clark rated it really liked it
Sep 30, 2015
Khadidjah Mattar
Khadidjah Mattar rated it really liked it
Nov 24, 2013
Dane Sørensen
Dane Sørensen rated it it was amazing
Mar 08, 2013
Terence
Terence rated it liked it
Jun 06, 2008
Aaron Yoder
Aaron Yoder rated it it was amazing
Jul 02, 2013
Rob Goossens
Rob Goossens rated it liked it
Jan 25, 2015
Teresa
Teresa rated it it was amazing
Feb 04, 2014
Veronica Bale
Veronica Bale rated it really liked it
Nov 22, 2012
Evan Reid
Evan Reid rated it really liked it
Feb 06, 2008
Allison
Allison rated it really liked it
Jun 28, 2008
Adam Morris
Adam Morris rated it really liked it
Jun 13, 2015
Paolo Grill
Paolo Grill rated it really liked it
Apr 19, 2013
Nicolas Steenlant
Nicolas Steenlant rated it really liked it
Jul 04, 2014
Elizabeth
Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Mar 10, 2015
George Schmoe
George Schmoe rated it really liked it
Aug 06, 2011
Gregory
Gregory rated it really liked it
Mar 19, 2014
Meaghan Buchanan
Meaghan Buchanan rated it it was amazing
Dec 29, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
I an Ousby's life began - and ended - in tragedy. The birth was tragic, or at least bleak, because his army officer father had been stabbed to death in the India of 1947, independence year, while his mother was pregnant with him. The death was tragic, or at least deeply sad, because his industry, insight, versatility, critical and literary skills, which had created a considerable reputation for hi ...more
More about Ian Ousby...

Share This Book