Customer Reviews


39 Reviews
5 star:
 (29)
4 star:
 (6)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplary WWI history: thought-provoking masterpiece
The Price of Glory is one of the best written books on the First World War, and certainly the best on Verdun. Alistair Horne goes beyond description of the strategic forces that produced the battle, the battle itself and its effects. What he has written is more like a biography of the belligerents, describing the romantic military fantasies of the opposing armies' high...
Published on 31 July 2002 by Dobester

versus
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awfully prejudiced
The Generals of WWI were not the butchers & bunglers that the historians of the 50's, 60' & 70's would have you believe. Nor were they the blameless professionals that apologists such as John Terraine & Gordon Corrigan have tried to paint them as. The truth lies somewhere in between. As a factual account of the sequence of events, and in the detail of those events, this...
Published 20 months ago by Mr M.R.Watkinson


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplary WWI history: thought-provoking masterpiece, 31 July 2002
By 
Dobester (Istanbul, Turkey) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (Penguin History) (Paperback)
The Price of Glory is one of the best written books on the First World War, and certainly the best on Verdun. Alistair Horne goes beyond description of the strategic forces that produced the battle, the battle itself and its effects. What he has written is more like a biography of the belligerents, describing the romantic military fantasies of the opposing armies' high commands, a combination of supreme national pride barely distinguishable from triumphalist racism and absolute faith in the cleansing power of mass destruction. Mr. Horne also makes the story come alive through his sympathetic, humane documentation of the miserable lives of the ordinary soldiers and field officers on both sides. As masterful a piece of work as any of Mr. Horne's books on France, and highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential introduction to WW1, 2 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (Penguin History) (Paperback)
In this magnificent book, the author makes a good case for the battle of Verdun to be considered the 'worst' battle in history - in no other battle was the slaughter so intense, so prolonged and concentrated in such a small area. It certainly puts a perspective on our peacetime sensibilities, when, for example, a train crash costing 20 lives is considered a 'disaster'. At Verdun, both sides considered 2000 lives a reasonable price to pay to gain, or defend, a minor tactical feature. And they paid it, day after day after day.
In this book the author gets the balance exactly right between explaining the strategic deliberations of the commanders and describing the experience of the battle as perceived by the men who had to fight it. The terrible effects of high explosives on the human body are described in graphic detail, but for the majority of participants in the battle, this was all they experienced - having to endure relentless shelling by the enemy (or often their own) artillery, without even seeing an enemy infantryman.
If I had the criticise the book, it would be that some of the generalisations the author makes about national characteristics (the Germans being ruthless and efficient, the French being temperamental and disorganised) are less easily acceptable now than in the less 'politically correct' times in which the book was written. Despite this minor quibble, however, this book should be read by anyone interested in that most terrible, and futile, of wars. It was rightly called the Great War.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and brilliant exposition of the battle of Verdun, 16 May 2002
By 
Robert Jones (South Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (Penguin History) (Paperback)
Takes the reader from the different strategical conceptions held by French and German armies at the start of the Great War, through local tactics down to the experiences of soldiers in the line at regimental and company level. No factor, whether technical, political or psychological is omitted. Mr.Horne has the gift of making the factors determining the outcome of the battle accessible to the lay reader. This is military history as it should be written - not glamourising the battle in any way, but yet explaining how the poilu was able to hold out and, in the end, prevail against a prepared and determined enemy. Gripping and heartbreaking at the same time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Verdun, text book history writing, 19 Sept. 2009
By 
Benjamin Girth "NI5 MCR" (Hampstead N6) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (Penguin History) (Paperback)
I have just spent two days visiting the battlefield. For anyone with a modest imagination this is a harrowing experience. It is an incredibly small space as World War 1 battlefields are but Verdun especially, it could almost fit inside Richmond Park. The shell holes have been preserved; now overgrown by trees the savage landscape remains visible. You can see the bones of 130,000 unidentified bodies in the Ossuary and walk inside the preserved forts of Douaumont and Vaux where unless you were able visit the gas chambers of Auschwitz (which were destroyed) where else could you descend into a place of such horror?

Why did this happen and what took place? It was not difficult to find Alistair Horne. The first history book I was unable to put it down missing a nights sleep was "The Fall of Paris - the Siege and Commune 1870-71". Horne is just good, he writes simply, orders his information; explains the Generals thinking and the soldiers experience with a clarity that cannot be faulted. There is not a superfluous bit of information and how things have changed - I defy any editor to alter a word. I have had to read so many bad or indifferent history books to realise how good he is. Horne tells the story chronologically; blends detail so by the end you are well-acquainted with strategy, tactics, and the political plays as well as what a 420mm shell did and a glutinous quagmire felt like. "Toujours le mot juste" and here just one small criticism, he occasionally uses non-translated French and German quotes which for non-linguists interrupts the narrative flow.

This book was published in 1963. I am sure someone is trying to make a name for themselves is writing a book "Verdun, France's Forgotten Victory" but it is the case facts simply told and well presented speak for themselves. Horne has talked to many who were there, he has read the memoirs of the decision makers and interpreted them. The sources are definitive and the interpretation intelligent, so who needs revisionism? Could it have been different? Horne offers some brief strategic alternatives but read this book for two reasons, to understand what took place at Verdun and as a masterpiece in historical writing. In passing I wonder if pre word processor historians had an advantage, they thought before they typed!

I came away from the battlefield with the book well thumbed; I feel I know 90% of what it was all about. I also read Christina Holstein "Walking Verdun" and "Fort Douaumont" the reprinted Illustrated Michelin Guide to the Battlefields "Verdun - and the Battles for Its Possession" published in 1919. There is much more you can factually learn beyond Horne, and this is a book of its time with different emphasis possible. For me Horne will do, I haven't the stomach for more and I wonder if it will - as the basic source - ever be bettered.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awfully prejudiced, 26 May 2013
By 
Mr M.R.Watkinson (Norfolk, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The Generals of WWI were not the butchers & bunglers that the historians of the 50's, 60' & 70's would have you believe. Nor were they the blameless professionals that apologists such as John Terraine & Gordon Corrigan have tried to paint them as. The truth lies somewhere in between. As a factual account of the sequence of events, and in the detail of those events, this is an excellent history, let down by the very obvious bias of its author. Whilst it is very readable, it is also very florid. When the second chapter concludes with the phrase "dying with their bowels hooked on the wire of No-Man's-Land", it is all too obvious that this is not going to be a balanced appraisal of Verdun, and especially not of any of the personalities involved in the battle. When in the 1993 preface, written 30 years after its first publication, the author has baldly stated "little caused me to want to change more than a line or two in successive editions", you can be sure that he has An Agenda that Has Not Shifted in all these years.

It is a good retelling of the events. It is lucid & readable; I did not notice any glaring inaccuracies. However the author, again in his 1993 preface, admits that "It was, unashamedly, an anti-war book." It is a book of the "Butcher" decades, with a consequent bias. It should, therefore, be treated with a certain amount of caution, whilst still being a very useful addition to a history of WWI.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Historical Writing, 29 April 2007
By 
Wilf (Gloucester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (Penguin History) (Paperback)
Without question this is one of the best, most informative, most readable, most thorough and most moving books on an aspect of The Great War, that I have read so far. And I have probably read more books on The Great War than on any other subject.

As I was reading the book I found myself continually struck by the extent of the research that lay behind it, and the total mastery of the author over his subject.

For the first time, I really began to understand what the war meant to the different participating nations and, indeed, the differing psychology behind each participant's approach to the whole thing (the whole war, not just Verdun). In fact, I now understand how sentiment (national and individual) lay at the very heart of the entire, ghastly, episode:

How Eric von Falkenhayn intended to 'bleed the French Army white', having correctly assumed that French sentiment would never allow them to accept the loss of Verdun;

How French feelings towards the disaster of The Franco-Prussian War would lead to them adopting the horrifically costly attitude of 'attaque a outtrance', where 'cold steel' was everything and how the ferocity of the bayonet-charge would deal with German machine-guns;

How the differing personalities amongst the commanders of each side would directly affect the experiences of the men 'on the ground' - eg. how the presence of General von Knobelsdorf continually hampered Crown Prince Wilhelm ("Little Willy") in his efforts to bring the fighting to an end, or how the defensively-minded Petain was given command of the French forces involved, thereby quelling the early panic, stabilising the situation, restoring morale and establishing the system necessary to maintain the French position;

How French sentiment prevented them from fighting a slow, tactical withdrawal across the many hills and ridges of the area, drawing the Germans onto powerful, prepared defensive positions and making them pay dearly for every yard gained;

How the two sides differed in their approach to the deployment of units. The French rotated units periodically, whereas the Germans kept the same units in the line from start to finish, maintaining numbers by way of drafts. The differing effects of this are plain - whilst the French could almost always look forward to eventual reprieve, their German counterparts could only find reprieve in death or incapacity, and, over time, the essential comradeship between members of the same unit would dwindle to nothing as old friends were killed or wounded. There is a case to be made that this approach would have been impossible in either the British or French armies - as it was, French morale subsequently collapsed when the Nivelle Offensive failed, and the army mutinied.

Etc, etc.

Frankly, the reviewer below me who has written-off Alastair Horne's masterly account simply because he objects to an attempt to quantify the differing national characters of the participants is either trying to be provocative or is an intellectual dwarf with no notion of what he's talking about. For myself, I think the word 'militaristic' is entirely appropriate when applied to the nation that invaded several of its neighbours, waged war on others and utterly disregarded the neutrality of Belgium. Germany was dominated by Prussia, was under a Prussian King, had an officer corps dominated by Prussians, and had an army built on Prussian lines. Can anyone dispute the description of Prussia as 'militaristic'? German society was heavily geared towards military endeavour (industrially and socially)- national service had been in place for many, many years and all able-bodied men remained on the Reserve into their forties.

This really is a very, very good book that I have now read several times, and I simply cannot recommend it highly enough. Anyone who is interested in the history of The Great War, or in the history of France (the Battle of Verdun occupies a unique place in French hearts) will be fascinated, mesmerised and horrified by this extraordinary account of the longest and, quite possibly nastiest, battle in history.

If you remain in any doubt as to the esteem in which Mr Horne's book is held, then I believe I am correct in stating that France herself has honoured him for this notable work. And, when the book was translated into German, it found favour amongst many German veterans of the battle.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Still important., 31 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Written in 1963 Alistair Horne's in depth study of the Battle of Verdun is still a relevant and important work on this epic battle. More costly in human lives than the Somme, more devastating to the landscape and more strategically vital to the overall understanding of World War One, Verdun in Britain is known but its true significance is overshadowed by the Anglo centric view we have in this country about the Great War.
For the majority of the war the allied burden for carrying the war to Germany fell on French shoulders and Horne's defining work really does emphasise this fact and draws together many strands that we, in Britain, are unduly ignorant of.
This truly horrific battle is graphically described, the writing is clear, concise and erudite. There may be newer interpretive aspects to World War One histories but "The Price of Glory : Verdun 1916" really is a benchmark in Great War studies.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Well balanced, 25 Sept. 2013
Part two of his trilogy and the second best for the layman. A good balance between the human and the military detail.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent scholarship sombre subject, 19 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (Penguin History) (Paperback)
Alistair Horne's work deserves its place as one of the definitive works on Verdun. True, the style may be considered a little dated and was written when many witnesses to the horror of Verdun were still alive and after the second shock of World War II. But this does not distract from what is a gripping account of this nightmarish event and provides an excellent background to a visit to the battlefield. I hope too it will encourage those visitors who want to try and understand Verdun more clearly, to take time to reflect on what that landscape has seen, preferably away from the tourist spots that are inevitably what many of the key places have become. The quiet woods and glades ring with atmosphere and I am grateful to AH and this book for improving my understanding of what took place there in 1916.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars "Price of Glory" by Alistair Horne, 9 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (Penguin History) (Paperback)
I first studied this book for "o"level History. It is a very clear, readable and accurate account of what was probably the worst battle in History. I have cycled to Verdun and in 1993 over 75 years later I can personally vouch for the fact that the Forest around Fort Vaux has been left untouched since WWI. You can still see the origional trenches and torn up ground, lick the walls of the fort for moisture like the origional entrapped French defenders did, and see the famous "Tranchee des Baionettes" where a squad of French troops was literally buried where they stood in their trench with only their bayonets poking above the ground. The sight also of the bones of 1000's of unknown soldiers stored in viewing galleries below "l'Ossuaire" is also a very sobering and grim sight. Read this book if you want to discover how 700,000 men can die fighting for no material gain whatsoever!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (Penguin History)
The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (Penguin History) by Alistair Horne (Paperback - 4 Nov. 1993)
£10.39
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews