John Mosier’s Verdun: The Lost History Of the Most Important Battle of World War I 1914-1918 is an interesting study that attempts to revisit some longstanding beliefs about The Great War in general and the battle of Verdun in particular. One of the main points the author is at pains to make is that there was really a series of engagements rather than the single action accepted by many.
Longstanding readers of this blog know I don’t spend as much time with my reviews of traditionally published works as I do with those of Indie authors, a community which I’m proud to be a part of.
Although much of this book is highly readable and engrossing, examining the war from a fairly high altitude and not becoming bogged down in small details, prior knowledge of the war’s major events and personalities is recommended.
There is a serious lack of maps — in the Kindle edition at least — and those that are included did not help me to better understand the situations discussed. In fact, I spent much of my time reading with my trusty copy of Collins Atlas of Military History at my side.
Also, the author evidences obvious distaste for some of the major figures involved in the war, notably Joffre and Haig. While many may agree with him, in my view the author weakens his overall argument by succumbing to the temptation to take shots at these figures. Had he remained mostly unemotional, simply stating his opinion that these men were inadequate to the task and giving some examples as to why he felt that way, I would have been more inclined to weigh his views carefully. Instead, too often I found myself sighing inwardly and shaking my head.
I’m not a serious student of World War I, so I won’t attempt to support or debunk the author’s revisionist theories. I believe he makes some solid points in favor of his views, and I enjoyed the mental exercise of re-examining some of the enduring and accepted ideas about the war.