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The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (France #2)

4.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,590 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
This is an alternate cover edition for ISBN 0140170413.
Paperback, 371 pages
Published 1993 by Penguin (first published 1962)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 14, 2015 Warwick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I have a Sick Child right now, which means I'm currently running on less than three hours' sleep. This feels to me like total exhaustion. Still, things could be a lot worse. It's been instructive to remind myself that French soldiers in the line at Verdun not uncommonly went eleven days without any rest at all. Although when I cheerfully reminded my wife of this fact at 4 a.m. she didn't seem to find it very reassuring.

Eleven days though! Imagine trying to confront an armed Brandenburger with th
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-i
About a month or so ago, I attended a theme party to celebrate a friend’s birthday. This was the third or fourth theme party I’d been to in the past twelve months. For whatever reason, as we get older, my social circle has decided that nights of raging drunkenness need some patina of class. Thus, the period costumes.

During the party – celebrating the speakeasy era of gangsters, flappers, and moonshine – we started planning other theme parties for the future. Mostly, this conversation consisted
Sep 08, 2014 happy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-ww-i
I found this a superb look at the iconic battle of World War I. In spite of being written appox. 50 yrs ago, Alistair Horne’s look a Verdun stands up extremely well. Mr. Horne looks at the battle from all levels, from the poor infantry soldier in mud to the highest general in his chateau.

In looking at the commanders, the German commander, Falkenhayn, comes off extremely poorly. He is presented as being overly cautious, overly secretive, excessively stingy with troops, having a flawed strategic
May 26, 2012 Geoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On my recent trip to France, I stayed for a time in a village called Gigny, situated on a plateau of farmland where Upper Burgundy meets Champagne; a town of about 30 houses total, close-knit, yards cordoned off by tall stone walls overgrown with lilac and ivy. The entire countryside was dotted with similar clusters of ancient towns, each of them radiating from a small square dominated by a church bearing dates of construction beginning in the fifteen or sixteen hundreds. The roads connecting th ...more
Oct 26, 2009 Buck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pro-patria-mori
Some selfish but ultimately healthy mechanism insulates us—most of us, most of the time—from life's horrors. Without a mental carapace to protect us from the sheer awfulness of things, we’d be reduced to masses of quivering, suicidal jelly before we even got out of bed. Take this humdrum little factoid: a quarter of a million men died in the Battle of Verdun. A quarter of a million. The mind refuses to assimilate such a statistic. Sure, you can understand it, but its full significance doesn’t re ...more
Nov 05, 2008 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Usually I just breeze through military history, but this was very affecting. Horne has that novelistic eye for the pathos of everything human--for even something as dry-sounding as the fluctuations of French army tactical doctrine 1870-1940. Horne shows you the sadness and helplessness behind the old cliche, 'generals are always fighting the last war.' The French army is bottled up and surrounded in fortress towns like Sedan and Metz by the Prussians in 1870--so in the years between then and 191 ...more
A.L. Sowards
This was my first WWI battle-level book and it was very informative. Sad, too, because Verdun is among the worst battles in history. (Horne makes the case that it is the worst battle in history, even worse than Stalingrad, and he might be right.)

Faced with stalemate on the Western Front, Falkenhayn, German chief of staff, came up with a plan to bleed the French army white. He would attack a target they had to defend, like the forts in front of Verdun, and then let attrition take its toll. There
'Aussie Rick'
Nov 28, 2009 'Aussie Rick' rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a classical piece of military history, well written and presented. This would be the best book that you'll find covering the terrible slaughter that is known as 'Verdun' during WWI. The author is one of the best English authors who covers French history and he writes his stories well. Take the time to read this book you wont be disappointed!
Brendan Hodge
Mar 12, 2013 Brendan Hodge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-great-war
Alistair Horne's detailed history of the nearly year-long battle of Verdun is both exhaustive and human in its detail -- much like his A Savage War of Peace: Algeria, 1954-1962 which I read and very much liked last year. Most importantly, Horne does a good job of going beyond the too-easy (especially with WW1) tack of portraying the horrors of the battlefield and contextualizes Verdun in the French national self understanding. Price of Glory is part of a loose trilogy, which also includes The Fa ...more
Mikey B.
Feb 08, 2013 Mikey B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, world-war-i
This is a searing account of the battle of Verdun. The relentlessness and remorselessness of battle are illustrated in this book. The battle - meaning the killings, became self-perpetuating. It was only Petain on the French side who was able to "slow" this murderous momentum. The Germans introduced phosgene gas to increase the attrition.

As the author suggests Verdun may be a reason for the French collapse in 1940. The soldiers were not fighting each other, but were fighting artillery - and were
Tyler Lees
Mar 08, 2013 Tyler Lees rated it really liked it
To explain the bloodshed of the twentieth century, Alistair Horne undertook to view them through the prism of th relationship between France and Germany, culminating in a trilogy: The Fall of Paris, The Price of Glory, and To Lose a Battle.

In The Price of Glory, Horne explains how defeat in the Franco-Prussian war shaped France prior to World War One, and the key battle for France at Verdun, and how the outcome at Verdun would shape the decades to come. At Verdun, Germany would waste away its be
Richard Dollison
Jul 19, 2015 Richard Dollison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book about a horrible event. It is difficult to imagine that one battle claimed 700,000 casualties.
Andrew Ssempala
Aug 24, 2010 Andrew Ssempala rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Huh! I had never read a complete story about war when I first read this book in mid 2000. I shall never forget the name of the man who wrote this book. Its simply one of the very best books I ever read. It revealed to me that even though the weapons used in the World War I were not as lethal as what we saw in the next war, still the ferocity was maddening. That infamous standoff at Verdun between the arnies of France and Germany will remain one of the greyyest description of war in my mind. The ...more
Mike Grady
Aug 15, 2012 Mike Grady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010s
Excellent read on one of WWI's major battles. The author captures both the epic scale of the battle as well as the horrible conditions for the individual soldier. There is also an afterword as well as an epilogue to illustrate the impact that the the battle and key players had on the Second World War. Fascinating.

For me, the only draw back was that while the author provides several quotes in French, he does not provide an interpretation.

Recommended for those interested in either the First World
Jun 27, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading "The Fall of Paris" earlier this year I was keen to follow up with this second part of Alistair Horne's trilogy about the Franco-German conflicts of 1870 - 1940. This is a comprehensive analysis of the immense Verdun battle of 1916, with a particular emphasis on the strengths and weaknesses of the generals on both sides - Joffre, Pétain, Nivelle, Falkenheyn, the Crown Prince, Knobelsdorf; and others. It's also strong on the experience of the battle for the ordinary soldier. Obvious ...more
Jim Pfluecke
Sep 28, 2014 Jim Pfluecke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Horne's book is a good examination of the long running battle for Verdun in WWI. He does a good job of placing the nearly year long struggle in its proper political, strategic, tactical (as in the evolution of WWI tactics), and personal perspectives. He does an excellent job discussing the specific battles that took place, the characters and actions of the major leaders, and results of the campaign. I had one little nit-pick, which was his description of the Austrian Commander in Chief Conrad as ...more
Feb 19, 2016 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely breathtaking review of the horrific struggle for Verdun in 1916, ""Price of Glory"" is one of the best WW1 histories I have ever read. While managing to focus on the military aspects of the battle, Horne manages to bring to light the profoundly moving human element of Verdun, with accounts of individual moments during the siege that will stay with the reader long after they are finished reading. My only complaint (and it is a mild one) is that too often Horne quotes French statemen ...more
Scott Martin
Feb 13, 2016 Scott Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It had been a long time since I last read this book, but given that we are just about at the 100 year anniversary of this critical battle, it seemed like a good time to review this one. It was informative but not too dense. It offered a good balance between military tactics and key personalities. This time, given that I learned a little French, it helped with some of the quotes and readings. Perhaps the biggest thing that I took from the work was his opinion, which I have held as well, that Verd ...more
R.M. Byrd
Jul 14, 2014 R.M. Byrd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is, of course, the classic book of the battle. I read it as preparation to a trip to Verdun when I was living in Switzerland and it gave me what I think was a good basic insight into the reasons the battle was fought and the extraordinary things that went on, as well as the tragic mistakes that were made. The story of 'The Sacred Way' (the sole road leading in and out of Verdun for supplies), the trench of the bayonets (where soldiers waiting to go 'over the top' were literally buried ...more
Jan 17, 2015 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
Good book on the Verdun campaign. Very compelling read. It left me angry at the arrogance and blindness of British and French military leaders. Horne gives both sides of the story, and his German vignettes are compelling.
May 26, 2015 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How can one say they enjoyed reading a book about such a terrible battle?

I learned a great deal from reading this book. I am an american living in France and while I was familiar with some aspects of World War I, much of it learned while serving with the US Marine Corps and as well through my high school and university history books - none of which revealed what author Alistair Horne does in his well written account.

I have long desired to visit the places here in France where these battles took
Joe Rodeck
Mar 11, 2016 Joe Rodeck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WWI trench warfare covered in no-holds-barred grody and horrific detail. This is the battle that introduced poisonous gas shells and the flamethrower. The men "coughed and retched and tore at their throats in a desperate struggle for air."

The story is brilliantly told with metaphors and mythological allusions that make it so much more stimulating than ordinary history.

"Joffre was a true viscerotonic . . . . He thought from his belly rather than with his mind."

"{The Kaiser] guarded his thoughts
Splendid military history that not only describes the battle at Verdun, it brings illustrates the horror and cost of a true battle of attrition. Horne's elegant prose make this account interesting, readable, and emotional. The sections covering America's growing awareness of the Western Front and the birth of the modern airforce are fascinating.

Horne's concentrations on the terrifying and horrific aspects of the battle make The Price of Glory transcend other military histories. Lessons will be
Oliver Kim
Nov 27, 2015 Oliver Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like the battle it describes, reading this book was an oppressive, unrelenting experience. After a hundred pages I grew numb to the litany of costly blunders and casualties; after the last page, I could not help but close the book feeling tired and forlorn. True, I read most of the book in one long sitting, but I think this exhausting effect is intentional.

One small caveat (though not a flaw) is that this book treats the battle mostly from a French perspective. This makes sense, as the battle m
G.d. Brennan
Aug 11, 2012 G.d. Brennan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to understand World War I, this book about the battle of Verdun is a must-read.

A history professor once told me that World War I, the French Revolution, and the U.S. Constitution had inspired more history than any other events or episodes. World War I exhausted Europe; at the outset, its armies, navies and colonies held dominion over much of the globe, but at the end it was a pauper continent, with both victors and vanquished shattered by deaths and debts, reparations and revolutions
Popularly at least, the First World War is often seen as uniquely bad among wars and Verdun as its worst battle. In this middle volume of his trilogy on Franco-German military conflict from 1870 to 1940, Alistair Horne does an excellent job on both the levels which require success to make good military history. First, he clearly conveys the changing tactical picture of the battle. Second, he comes as close as it might be possible to recreate the experience of living and dying at Verdun between F ...more
James Dalziel
Mar 20, 2014 James Dalziel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over forty years old and I haven't read a better book on the First World War, in fact not many better history books full stop. The author manages a very good mixture of all aspects of the battle: The generals plans, the soldiers tales and the dramatic events all get a fair hearing and are so well told as to keep ones attention at all times. Scrupulously fair to both sides and a clear analysis of the outcome.
Mar 17, 2016 FurstBismarck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written description of one of the worst strategic blunders in history but before you damn von Falkenhayn, it's important to remember that after he was replaced as Chief of the General Staff, he was sent to Palestine where his personal intervention outright prevented an early Holocaust that would have been perpetrated by the Ottoman troops against Jewish settlers there.
Jul 16, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Fantastic and scary all at the same time. A wonderful story about the absolute horrors of war in a rapidly changing and evolving society. The use of nerve gas and machine guns is frightening.
Feb 07, 2015 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What makes Verdun even more tragic is the idea that the British Army needed to take some of the pressure off the French by attacking on the Somme, and more men died.
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Alistair Horne is a preeminent historian, journalist and Oxford fellow who has written seventeen books, many of them on the military history of France.He has won the following awards: Hawthornden Prize, 1963, for The Price of Glory; Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Prize and Wolfson Literary Award, both 1978, both for A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962; French Légion d'Honneur, 1993, for work ...more
More about Alistair Horne...

Other Books in the Series

France (3 books)
  • The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune 1870-71
  • To Lose a Battle: France 1940

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