Reading ➸ Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War Author Robert Allan Doughty –

Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War As The Driving Force Behind The Allied Effort In World War I, France Willingly Shouldered The Heaviest Burden In This Masterful Book, Robert Doughty Explains How And Why France Assumed This Role And Offers New Insights Into French Strategy And Operational Methods French Leaders, Favoring A Multi Front Strategy, Believed The Allies Could Maintain Pressure On Several Fronts Around The Periphery Of The German, Austrian, And Ottoman Empires And Eventually Break The Enemy S Defenses But France Did Not Have Sufficient Resources To Push The Germans Back From The Western Front And Attack Elsewhere The Offensives They Launched Proved Costly, And Their Tactical And Operational Methods Ranged From Remarkably Effective To Disastrously Ineffective Using Extensive Archival Research, Doughty Explains Why France Pursued A Multi Front Strategy And Why It Launched Numerous Operations As Part Of That Strategy He Also Casts New Light On France S Efforts To Develop Successful Weapons And Methods And The Attempts To Use Them In Operations An Unparalleled Work In French Or English Literature On The War, Pyrrhic Victory Is Destined To Become The Standard Account Of The French Army In The Great War 20060505

10 thoughts on “Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War

  1. says:

    There is little else available in English on the topic and Doughty is undoubtedly the best qualified to write it, given his previous work on the French Army between the World Wars and in 1940 As in his other works, the strength of this volume is describing the lessons the French learned from their wartime experiences and how these were applied While results can often be denigrated e.g., the Nivelle Offensive in 1917 , why such approaches were adopt...

  2. says:

    Joffre the French Generalissimo at least for the opening of the War seldom visited the front and preferred instead to wage France s struggle well behind the lines One can certainly criticize him for doing this But for a pertinent aside as Robin Nielland pointed out in The Great War Generals on the Western Front that there was a peculiarity to the First World War compared to conflicts before and after which is that communication and thus command and control between the front and the generals commanding was not in any way improved by a general s forward presence and was indeed worse Battles took place on too large a front with many men for a general to control At the very least a general behind the lines was easily found if and when information came back from the battle Plus there s communication or rather the lack thereof Electronic communication meant wires had to be laid by hand and these were typically hastily run and so on the ground or just under and therefore easily knocked out More reliable methods were runners an often fatal job, pigeons subject to the unpredictability of any animal, and semaphore useless in fog, smoke, and darkness or basically the conditions found on a battlefield Another possibility for Joffre s absence at the front is that i...

  3. says:

    A tremendous review of the French effort in World War I, certainly the best use of French sources by an American writer on the war that I ve seen or heard of Doughty provides a balanced assessment of key personalities in the French war effort like Joffre, Petain, Foch, and Nivelle, and also a sound and fair evaluation of the strategic and operational efforts they undertook The core thesis is that Joffre s strategy in 1914 that of simultaneous offensives on the Triple Alliance on all fronts until Germany broke from lack of reserves was fundamentally sound, but operational and doctrinal challenges and failures as well as the political difficulties stemming from poor coordination among allies and the lack of a supreme commander until 1918 made the achieving of this goal slow, painful, and difficult Indeed, it seems the manifestation of Sun Tzu s quote that strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory This view explains Joffre s insistence on executing Plan XVII, with its disastrous operations in Alsace Lorraine even as the Schlieffen Plan was being executed in Belgium his pu...

  4. says:

    Offers a solid, comprehensive account of France s military aims, strategies and achievements Works of this sort are essential to correcting the general perception of the war, which tends to diminish or even forget...

  5. says:

    The detailed deconstruction of troop movements and political strategy was a bit much for someone wanting a general understanding of the French military in WWI.

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