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Verdun

The Lost History of the Most Important Battle of World War I, 1914-1918
Narrated by: Wes Talbot
Length: 11 hrs and 57 mins
Categories: History, 20th Century
4 out of 5 stars (73 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Alongside Waterloo and Gettysburg, the Battle of Verdun during World War I stands as one of history’s greatest clashes. Yet it is also one of the most complex and misunderstood. Conventional wisdom holds that the battle began in February 1916 and lasted until December, when the victorious French wrested all the territory they had lost back from the Germans. In fact, says historian John Mosier, from the very beginning of the war until the armistice in 1918, no fewer than eight distinct battles were waged for the possession of Verdun. These conflicts are largely unknown, even in France, owing to the obsessive secrecy of the French high command and its energetic propaganda campaign to fool the world into thinking that the war on the Western Front was a steady series of German checks and defeats.

Although British historians have always seen Verdun as a one-year battle designed by the German chief of staff to bleed France white, Mosier’s careful analysis of the German plans reveals a much more abstract and theoretical approach.Our understanding of Verdun has long been mired in myths, false assumptions, propaganda, and distortions. Now, using numerous accounts of military analysts, serving officers, and eyewitnesses, including French sources that have never been translated, Mosier offers a compelling reassessment of the Great War’s most important battle.

©2013 John Mosier (P)2013 Gildan Media LLC

Critic Reviews

“Mr. Mosier [is] one of the more entertainingly contrarian military historians writing today...An important and groundbreaking audiobook about the Eastern front.” ( The Washington Times on Hitler vs. Stalin)
“The author knows his military history, strategy, and tactics…packed with evidence, much of it ingeniously obtained and argued.” ( The Washington Post on The Myth of the Great War)

What members say

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A good book ruined by its reader

You have a worthy book about one of the most important (and, thanks to misreporting and cover-ups, least understood) battles of World War I. It was fought in France, between French and German armies, and the book recounts the action primarily from the French side. Given this, one might suppose that one of the first requirements for an audio version would be a reader who could pronounce French--or who would at least take the trouble, before tackling each passage, to learn how to say the French words in it. The producers of this audible execration took a different approach. By selecting a reader who pronounces almost every French name or term in his own uniquely wrong way, they rendered Mosier's interesting if somewhat verbose book all but unlistenable. After a valiant struggle to ignore Puh-TAYN, DJOFF-ree, the MOOZE, and countless other cringe-inducing errors, I was forced to concede defeat and turn the ghastly thing off.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan B.
  • Newburyport, MA, United States
  • 03-31-16

Most Thought-provoking

Many of the Great War "battle" books provide excellent detail, first hand accounts, just like Mosier's Verdun. Some, like Peter Hart's books give better detail in that respect. However, Out of all the WW1 books I've listened to, Verdun is the one where I felt like I got the most perspective and context...More "why" less how.

The narration is abysmal. The pronunciation of French names is especially bad. But it is still worth listening to, if you can get over the countless "Joffreys".

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 07-22-14

Hunt for the truth

This book might be a good preparatory reading for World War One. Dr. Mosier covers a number of topics, geography of France, German and French history prior to WWI, railroads and their usefulness and limitations as well as military preparedness. He explains in pain-staking detail why the French artillery was terribly inaccurate and inadequate. French politics are reviewed along with their divisive role in military preparedness.

The author claims the lost history is actually buried history. The French army controlled all information or disinformation of the war. The author delved into this mass of suppressed information finding that each layer of command lied to the one above it as to the results of the latest offensive effort. One of the main points the author makes is that Verdun was not one battle but a series of battles fought from late 1914 to 1918.

One need to carefully review the source of the information provided in the index and keep a skeptical viewpoint to decide for yourself, is the book a fresh viewpoint and a struggle with official “truth” or a powerful revisionist account. Mosier also points out that WWI had no hero General to catch the public attention. Whereas, WWII had many Hero Generals that has kept the public interested in WWII for years. For those interested in World War One history the book is well worth the read. The book was narrated by Wes Talbot.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • Virginia, United States
  • 08-31-19

great

awesome for long road trips and very informative and also great to listen to in parts

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Good military history of Verdun thru the war

Narrator was not as bad as other reviewers were complaining about, although it was amusing to here "Joffre" pronounced like "Jeffery" the whole time.

This book describes Verdun the eye of a hurricane of violence all through the war years. It is very heavy with the military side of things and there isn't much accounts of soldiers experiences on the ground, but that doesnt make it totally unlistenable like Okinawa: the Last Battle.

Overall this is a good book that dispels many legends and myths about what happened at Verdun, and paints a clearer picture of a otherwise murky battle, but I might need to relisten a couple times to fully appreciate.

Need more soldiers accounts for sure

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Dry

I usually don't write reviews but for this work I must. This book is perfect if all you care about is the extreme minute details of the battle or as the author authors describes battles of Verdun. the author spent about 2 hours of this book describing IN EXTREME DETAIL every facet of french artillery. I go to a military college and consider myself a history buff but this book was too much for me. I finished all 11 hours but I can't say I learned all that much simply because the dry material and the monotone voice actor made me glaze over most of the time. I would only recommend this book to the most extreme history buff or someone writing a paper on the battle. Your 11 hours could be spent better elsewhere.

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great book and great reader

This reader is excellent, and as an American, I couldn't care less about his pronunciation of French words and names! He did a great job.
With respect to the content, this book is a military masterpiece. EVERY professional soldier up to General rank should read this book. I recently read Team of Teams by Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Brilliant book with remarkably similar content and conclusions. (when comparing modern special forces teams with 1916 German storm troupers. also with respect to the "human nature folly" aspects of military bureaucracy as well as civilian government dictates)
Also, my own deceased father had a remarkably reasonable understanding of the Verdum battle. Today however, I am stunned at the realization that my own brilliant father was so influenced by French wartime propaganda!
I willl be visiting Verdun later this summer, which is why I bought this audio book.
Many thanks for bringing me this masterpiece of military (and human nature) history.

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Would not recommend

Narrator frequently mispronounces words, especially names and places. Author shows some biases and somtimes makes jokes that are cheasy and off-putting given the serious topic.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

New view of Verdun

I felt like the book had me unlearn what I knew about the battle in the start, then tought me it all over again, but from a very different and interesting view. I learned not just about the battle, but a helpful way to look at history. A must read for anyone interested in Verdun.

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Good But...

I purchased this book because I wanted to learn more about the battle. The book delivered facts and supported the author's thesis about the battle but did not do a good job telling the story of the battle. I really did not learn much about the ebb and flow of the battle or battles, according to the author.