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Fatal Avenue: A Traveller's History of the Battlefields of Northern France and Flanders 1346-1945 [Paperback]

Richard Holmes
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

20 Jun 2008

De Gaulle called it a 'fatal avenue' - that broad sweep of low-lying country stretching north-east of Paris. Over the centuries, invading armies have swept back and forth over this bloody terrain, and the names of battles fought here read like a dictionary of military history - from Agincourt, Calais and Crécy to Verdun, Vimy and Ypres.

Fatal Avenue is both a history and a guide - a unique study of a region that has witnessed more bitter military conflict than any other area of its size on earth.

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Fatal Avenue: A Traveller's History of the Battlefields of Northern France and Flanders 1346-1945 + The Complete War Walks: From Hastings to Normandy + The Western Front
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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Revised edition (20 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844139387
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844139385
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 344,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Holmes was one of Britain's most successful historians and television presenters. Author of the best-selling Tommy, Redcoat and Wellington: The Iron Duke, he has also written and presented television series for the BBC. As well as serving in the TA, he taught military history at Sandhurst and, latterly, as Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science. Richard Holmes died suddenly on 30 April 2011 from pneumonia, aged 65.

Product Description


"Enthralling information on everything from archery to fortification, and from strategy to ecology... It could scarcely be bettered" (Ronald Blythe)

"Exceedingly well written... triumphantly succeeds... Richard Holmes is equally sure-footed when dealing with the human element, writing with equal conviction about Joan of Arc, Malborough, Napoleon, Haig, Foch, Ludendorff, Montgomery, Eisenhower, and many others. His book is an outstanding recruit to the shelves of military history" (Martin Fagge)

"A panoramic view of the military history of the battle-scarred landscape extending from Lorraine to Normandy" (Sunday Times)

"Utterly fascinating. Its combined activities as uplifting route-map of courage and gloire and as sobering geo-history of human folly makes this a shaking, appalling, irresistible read" (Observer)

Book Description

A unique work, combining military history and travel, studying the most fought-over area on earth.

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Holmes best yet? 29 Oct 2008
By Vauban
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fatal Avenue: A Traveller's History of the Battlefields of Northern France and Flanders 1346-1945

"Just as a portrait suggests the sitter's destiny, so the map of France tells our fortune. The main body of our country has as its centre a citadel, a rugged mass of ancient mountains, flanked by the plateaux of Languedoc, the Limousin and Burgundy; all around stretches a broad glacis, for the most part difficult of access for any invader, protected by the trenches of the Saône, the Rhône and the Garonne, barred by plunging, in the distance, down to the Channel, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. But in the north-east there is a terrible breach that links German territory to the crucial basins of the Seine and the Loire. ...

... This breach in its ramparts is France's age-old weakness. Through it Roman Gaul saw the barbarians rush in on its riches. It was there that the monarchy struggled with difficulty against the power of the Holy Roman Empire. There Louis XIV defended his power against the European coalition. The Revolution almost perished there. Napoleon succumbed there. In 1870 disaster and disgrace took no other road. In this fatal avenue we have just buried one third of our youth".

So wrote Charles de Gaulle in 1934 - six years later France would suffer another invasion through the same breach.

Fatal Avenue tells the story of France at war from the Hundred Years War until the end of the Second World War, how the need to protect her borders from enemies both internal and external, perceived and actual have shaped both the history of France and of Europe across six centuries.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fatal Avenue 14 Dec 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Typical Richard Holmes-informative,easy to read,hard to put down.When I had read it ,I passed it onto my son and he agrees with this review.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Usual High Standard 5 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fascinating book on a piece of land that is closer to England than I have to travel to work each day. The readable style that Richard Holmes applies to all his books (and I have them all) brings history into picture with clarity and enthusiasm. If you have not read Richard Holmes before, start here. But be careful, it's quite addictive.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fatal Avenue 20 Jan 2010
Incredible detail as you would expect from Richard Holmes.

My only complaint, and it not insignificant, is the lack of adequate maps. The font in those maps which are included is so tiny that they are hard to interpret even with a magnifying glass.
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