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A Storm in Flanders: The Ypres Salient, 1914-1918: Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  419 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
A Storm in Flanders is novelist and prizewinning historian Winston Groom's gripping history of the four-year battle for Ypres in Belgian Flanders, the pivotal engagement of World War I that would forever change the way the world fought -- and thought about -- war. This is Groom's account of what would become the most dreaded place on earth. In 1914, Germany launched an inv ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Grove Press (first published 2002)
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'Aussie Rick'
Jan 10, 2013 'Aussie Rick' rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-military, ww1
Winston Groom's A Storm in Flanders, offers the reader an interesting and satisfying overview of the fighting around the Ypres Salient between 1914 and 1918. The book is 276 pages in length of which over 260 is text. This account cannot be considered comprehensive in its study of the Ypres Salient in the Great War, for that you will need to look elsewhere. However what Mr Groom does offer is a compelling look at the numerous battles fought around the Ypres Salient, including one of the most drea ...more
Megan Baxter
This is a very awkward review to write. I've spent the better part of the last ten years turning myself into a historian, see, and so I feel like I should be speaking as an expert, analyzing this book of popular history, pointing out what's right and wrong, speaking from my so-called vast knowledge on the value of a book about Ypres written by the author of Forrest Gump.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read w
...more
Koen
Oct 27, 2014 Koen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-ww1
I read Keegan, Strachan, Macdonald specifically about Ypres and a couple of other books about the big war. Most are, as i remember them since it's been a while, more comprehensive than Groom is here. As he states in the beginning this book is written for Americans who might not have had the same exposure to the 14-18 stories as Europeans in general and Brits specifically might have. That, i must say, makes for a good read. The author keeps the narrative going and nowhere gets boring like some of ...more
Marks54
Aug 29, 2015 Marks54 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book presents a short overview of the Flanders campaign in WWI. It is the history of one long and destructive battle -- written by the author of Forrest Gump. Groom is a good story teller and succeeds in this book. It is claimed that this is a book about a campaign in Belgium that was British rather than French but also a book written for Americans to provide an introduction to WWI, a war that has not received the attention it should in the US relative to WW2, Vietnam, and other conflicts. ...more
Jeff Rowe
Oct 22, 2014 Jeff Rowe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's what I learned from this book: WWI really sucked. The key here is that I already knew this, but the book makes you realize that, no, you didn't know this already because... How about this? At Ypres, you couldn't dig a trench more than a foot or so deep, so when the shells start coming, you're laying in a slight indentation in the earth. Or this? The shelling churned the soil to a depth of more than 10 feet, so when it rained you had 10 foot deep mud that sucked people under. If you tried ...more
Rich
May 03, 2013 Rich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful book, well written, worthy to be read by everyone. But check your heart as you begin. It is not pretty.

Groom provides an overview of the conduct of the war regarding Flanders, such that the reader gains an appreciation of all factors weighting upon decisions that at times seem brilliant, more often idiotic, and usually puzzling. The ranking officers in the British Army had their own agendas and battled the political leaders (especially Gen. Haig vs. David Lloyd George). In addition, Gro
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Strawfoot
3 1/2. I have read enough military history to know that if you are well-versed in this war the book is really not great at drilling down. I am not entrenched (sorry) in this subject matter yet, so I found it fairly enjoyable.
Al
Jan 13, 2014 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Winston Groom, war historian and novelist, changes his usual focus from the Civil War to World War One in “A Storm in Flanders,” a useful popular history of the crushing, devastating battles that took place near the town of Ypres in Belgium. WWI was primarily a war of attrition with its trench warfare; therefore, it doesn’t easily lend itself to a traditional battle narrative, but Groom handles the task well in this accessible history. Given Groom’s past as a U.S. soldier in Vietnam, he is alway ...more
Edward Sullivan
A vivid, engrossing history that is particularly effective in conveying the horrific loss and inexplicable futility of World War I.
Philip
Apr 29, 2016 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel kind of guilty saying I "really liked" a story this horrific, but I just learned so much from it, and it was so well written. Yes, Winston Groom is the same guy that wrote Forrest Gump, but he also served as an officer in Vietnam and was nominated for a Pulitzer for Conversations With the Enemy, about POWs in Vietnam - so he's more than the "life is like a box of chocolates" guy.

Groom tells a "war is hell" story that strips away the cliche and exposes in gruesome detail one of history's -
...more
Mark Hainds
Feb 27, 2012 Mark Hainds rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Storm in Flanders was a compelling read. Although I’ve read several books about the Second World War, I believe this was my first nonfiction book on WW I.
I watched and greatly enjoyed Forrest Gump, but this was my first time to read a book by Winston Groom.
Mr. Groom appears to have conducted a good deal of research and learned his topic well. He gives a good accounting of opposing views on the major players in the conflict, and to the best of my knowledge, lays out an unbiased telling of
...more
Brian
May 21, 2009 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those with an interest in History, especially the world wars.
This book is about World War One. It was written by Winston Groom whom you may know better as the author of Forest Gump. Groom writes this book for Americans who know little about the first World War. As he says, most people's reference point to war (and indeed how the world has been shaped as a result for decades after) starts from World War Two.

Part of what I enjoyed about this book is how Groom gives us some pre-history. Setting the stage briefly in Europe from about the 1880's forward, and a
...more
Alex Crowther
When you think your life is bad, you need only to read a chapter of so of this book to realize how good you have it. The Ypres Salient was formed at the end of the first German advance in WWII during the "Race to the Sea" where both sides entrenched their positions. When the Germans realized that the war had changed from a war of manoeuvre to a war of static position, they chose the best terrain available for their positions. As such, they took the high ground which dominated Ypres to the north, ...more
Maduck831
Oct 07, 2013 Maduck831 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww1
Take this for what it is (as the author explains), an "introductory" / "american account" of Ypres and all it brought. If you accept this, it's a great starter book and a very fluid/good read. For details, etc. definitely need to find more sources and books, especially the final battles which are dealt with quickly.

"In a fit of Wagnerian frenzy, the German students came on arm-in-arm or waving their rifles in the air, singing, and with their spiked picklehaube helmets festooned with flowers. By
...more
W. Don
Sep 16, 2014 W. Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I knew so little about trench warfare in Belgium during WWI. My grandfather must have fought in the 3rd battle Ypres, or Passchendaele, as he was assigned to a medical ambulance depot attached to the Canadian 1st infantry Division. It is amazing what both sides endured between August of 1914 and November of 1918, in what is referred to as the Ypres Salient.
Lorraine
A good overview of World War I in Belgium. I have to admit at first I was put off by some of the simplistic explanations for American readers. (Kaiser Wilhelm being referred to as William...really?) However it certainly explains the futility and horrors that were specific to the extended trench warfare of the region. I would recommend this if one has not read much about World War I.
Morgan
Jun 01, 2015 Morgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This man has a morbid sense of humor. But this book is amazing. People forget looking at statistics that each man who died was somebody's son, father, brother, or husband. Groom finds a way to make history personal. This is a book that anyone interested in WWI should read.
Joshua Horn
While this book is not a detailed account of the Battle of Ypres, it seemed to me to be a decent overview of the broader context of the war on the Western Front, framed in context of the Ypres section.
John Keenan
Jan 10, 2015 John Keenan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really only knew Winston Groom as the author of "Forrest Gump," not a historian, but this is a very well-written book an a truly, frustratingly horrible piece of First World War history. After reading this, I want to read Groom's book on Shiloh.
Peter
Apr 16, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
excellent war t

This was a thorough, well researched, well recounted epic story of one of the greatest battles ever. A truly superb piece.
Eric Budd
Sep 10, 2015 Eric Budd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good overview. This book does require some foreknowledge of WWI history to get the most out of it, but Groom writes well, and his work nicely straddles the divide between dry historical recitation and polemic anecdotalism.
Jennifer
Aug 19, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far one of the best books I have read in a while. We follow several different people through the war but briefly and we meet Adolf Hitler. Now I have an idea for my next vacation. This book caused me to miss more than one stop on my train.
The Great War, wiped out generations entire divisions of soldiers and yet I feel so guilty for not knowing much about this war. I had no idea how atrocious the Germans were, not that any sort of war brings out the best in people. I don't want to spoil anyth
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John
Feb 05, 2016 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: low-country, ww1
Great read about Ypres and Passchendaele and trench warfare. Lots on strategy and the conditions under which they caught. Some of whole war putting this battles in context.
Steve
Aug 02, 2009 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I co-worker lent me this book after finding out I was a military history buff. The author also wrote 'Forest Gump' (I've only seen the movie).

The book is excellent. The attention to historical detail and bringing the whole history of World War I into the battles around Yrpes is done in a compelling way.

I learned a lot about World War I that I didn't know - like the huge tunnel mine bombs. The book also included personal stories based on letters home from the soldiers or diaries, and told the sto
...more
Chris Laskey
Nov 25, 2013 Chris Laskey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
2nd time and a great book covering one of the more awful places to be soldiering in during WWI. What I have always enjoyed in this work is the very clear and concise telling of the sordid military affairs that vanquished so many lives hideously and most likely needlessly. Chilling and moving with snippets of personal information from various diaries in extant. Pretty much concentrates on the British personalities involved - and one could place a fault in this volume if you were looking to find a ...more
Theo Van Eijden
Mar 09, 2015 Theo Van Eijden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good overview on what happened around Ypres druring the war
Dave Mccormick
Oct 01, 2015 Dave Mccormick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friendly book covering perhaps the least friendly predicament faced by large numbers of men - the Ypres salient, where the clash of 19th century romanticism and 20th century technological warfare converged. As others have mentioned, Groom doesn't get into the level of detail that other books detailing this part of WWI do. He does bring a novelist's touch to the material though, so I think it evens out. There's plenty of material to go over.
Dan Griswold
Apr 03, 2014 Dan Griswold rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sobering, engaging story of World War I from the author of Forrest Gump.
Jennifer
Jan 29, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who can't imagine themselves ever wanting to read military history.
Recommended to Jennifer by: Patrick
Shelves: warfare-history
I was enthralled with this book on WW I. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction. Oddly, the same author wrote Forrest Gump. I never dreamt that I would so thoroughly enjoy a book about war, but I was utterly fascinated. I'm tempted to rattle off just a few of the amazing anecdotes from this book, but it's best to just read it yourself. Even if you're not a WW I or history buff, I can't see how this book could fail to amaze you. I couldn't stop myself from reading passages aloud and relaying t ...more
Carol Mandel
Aug 29, 2015 Carol Mandel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook
I had no idea... As a reader who isn't very knowledgeable about war, this book really opened my eyes. I can't imagine the conditions the soldiers endured in the trenches of Flanders during WWI. No movie I've seen could portray it the way it was described in this book.
I wouldn't normally choose this book to read, but since I will soon be visiting Belgium, and taking a tour of the WWI battlefields, I wanted to learn a bit more about it.
This was a very readable book, very interesting and enlig
...more
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Winston Groom is an American novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for his book Forrest Gump, which was adapted into a film in 1994. Groom was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up in Mobile, Alabama where he attended University Military School (now known as UMS-Wright Preparatory School). He attended the University of Alabama, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta and the Army ROTC, and ...more
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