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click to enlarge Holstein, Christina. FORT DOUAUMONT: VERDUN. NEW copy, trade paperback. 200 illustrations. (Pen & Sword, 2010). Revised edition. 5.5x8.5, photographs, graphics, 192 pages.

~~~ This fully revised second edition of Christina Holstein's acclaimed Battleground guide to Fort Douaumont will be essential reading for students of the Battle of Verdun, for visitors to the battlefield, and for anyone who is interested in the history of twentieth-century fortifications.The battle, which lasted from 21 February to 15 December 1916, was a turning point in the First World War, and Fort Douaumont was at the heart of it. In 1914 the fort was the strongest and most modern of the fortifications around Verdun and it formed the keystone of the French defense in the area.Using both French and German sources, Christina Holstein introduces the reader to the fortress system around Verdun, explains the construction, reinforcement and armament of Fort Douaumont and describes its surprise capture by the Germans in February 1916. Its loss was a terrible blow to French morale and their repeated attempts to retake the fort are portrayed in graphic detail. As the months ground on and the Battle of Verdun turned into stalemate, the desire to keep or to recapture Fort Douaumont, whatever the cost, became the reason for both sides to go on fighting.This invaluable, and now fully up-to-date, Battleground guide gives a compelling insight into the brutal nature of the struggle - and into the soldiers, French and German, who took part in it.


click to enlarge Holstein, Christina. FORT VAUX: VERDUN. NEW copy, trade paperback. 200 illustrations. (Pen & Sword, 2012). 5.5x8.5, 180 illustrations, 192 pages.

~~~ The bitter fight for Fort Vaux is one of the most famous episodes in the Battle of Verdun - it has achieved almost legendary status in French military history. The heroic resistance put up by the fort’s commander, Major Raynal, and his small, isolated garrison in the face of repeated German assaults was remarkable at the time, and it is still seen as an outstanding example of gallantry and determination. But what really happened inside the besieged fort during the German attacks, and how can visitors to the Verdun battlefield get an insight into the extraordinary events that took place there almost a century ago? In this precise, accessible account, Christina Holstein, one of the leading authorities on the Verdun battlefield and its monuments, reconstructs the fight for the fort in graphic day-by-day detail. Readers get a vivid sense of the sequence of events, of the intense experience of the defenders and a wider understanding of the importance of Fort Vaux in the context of the German 1916 offensive.


click to enlarge Holstein, Christina. WALKING VERDUN: A Guide to the Battlefield. NEW copy, trade paperback. (Pen & Sword, 2012). 5.5x8.5, 100 b&w photographs, 176 pages.

~~~ On 21 February 1916 the German Fifth Army launched a devastating offensive against French forces at Verdun and set in motion one of the most harrowing and prolonged battles of the Great War. By the time the struggle finished ten months later, over 650,000 men had been killed or wounded or were missing, and the terrible memory of the battle had been etched into the histories of France and Germany. This epic trial of military and national strength cannot be properly understood without visiting, and walking, the battlefield, and this is the purpose of Christina Holstein's invaluable guide. In a series of walks she takes the reader to all the key points on the battlefield, many of which have attained almost legendary status - the spot where Colonel Driant was killed, the forts of Douaumont, Vaux and Souville, the Mort Homme ridge, and Verdun itself.


Horne, Alistair, THE PRICE OF GLORY: Verdun 1916 .VG. Trade PAPERBACK. (Penguin Books, 1986). Photographs, index, 362 pages. Abridged edition.
~~~ Verdun was the battle which lasted ten months; the battle in which at least 700,000 men fell, along a front of fifteen miles; the battle whose aim was less to defeat the enemy than to bleed him to death; the battle ground whose once firtile terrain is even now the 'nearest thing to desert in Europe'.
~~~ But this book is very much more than a chronicle of the facts of death. It is a profoundly moving, sympathetic study of the men who fought there, and one that shows Verdun to be the key to an understanding of the First World War -- the key to the minds of those who waged it, to the traditions that bound them, and to the world that gave them the opportunity.


click to enlarge Wolfe, Avery Royce. LETTERS FROM VERDUN: Frontline Experiences of an American Volunteer in World War 1 France . NEW copy, hardcover with dust jacket. (Casemate, 2009). 8.5x11, 100 illustrated throughout, 226 pages.

~~~ Though the United States was late to enter the Great War, a number of idealistic young Americans wished to take part from the beginning. One of these was Avery Royce Wolf, a highly educated scion of a family in America’s burgeoning industrial heartland.
~~~ Volunteering as an ambulance driver with the French Army in the Verdun sector, Royce sent back a constant stream of highly detailed letters describing the experience of frontline combat, not excluding comments on strategy, the country he encountered, and the Allies’ prospects for success.
~~~ This treasure trove of brilliant letters, only recently discovered, is accompanied by several albums worth of rare, high-quality photos depicting aspects of the Great War in France never previously published.
~~~ The book contains expert overviews to set the reader in Royce’s time and place; however, the narrative is most gripping with his own day-to-day perceptions, analytical and emotional in turn. The reader can sympathize with Royce’s dilemma when his original term of service expires and he wonders whether to return home. But then the American army begins to arrive and he decides to continue on. We hear firsthand how the U.S. troops are first kept out of battle, then take casualties no veteran unit would have sustained, because of their fresh-faced audacity.
~~~ When the Ludendorff Offensive unfolds in spring 1918 there is nothing but disaster to report, as each day witnesses a new collapse before the seemingly unstoppable Germans. Royce believes that the entire Allied war effort is doomed. But then somehow the Allies hold on and the war is nearly at an end.
~~~ Full of exciting experiences as well as interesting firsthand analyses such as comparing French and German trench works (the latter were far better), Letters from Verdun brings the reader amazingly close to the frontlines of the Great War, almost as if in person.


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