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The Fortress: The Siege of Przemyśl and the Making of Europe's Bloodlands

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In the autumn of 1914 Europe was at war. The battling powers had already suffered casualties on a scale previously unimaginable. On both the Western and Eastern fronts elaborate war plans lay in ruins and had been discarded in favour of desperate improvisation. In the West this resulted in the remorseless world of the trenches; in the East all eyes were focused on the old, In the autumn of 1914 Europe was at war. The battling powers had already suffered casualties on a scale previously unimaginable. On both the Western and Eastern fronts elaborate war plans lay in ruins and had been discarded in favour of desperate improvisation. In the West this resulted in the remorseless world of the trenches; in the East all eyes were focused on the old, beleaguered Austro-Hungarian fortress of Przemysl. The great siege that unfolded at Przemysl was the longest of the whole war. In the defence of the fortress and the struggle to relieve it Austria-Hungary suffered some 800,000 casualties. Almost unknown in the West, this was one of the great turning points of the conflict. If the Russians had broken through they could have invaded Central Europe, but by the time the fortress fell their strength was so sapped they could go no further. Alexander Watson, prize-winning author of Ring of Steel, has written one of the great epics of the First World War. Comparable to Stalingrad in 1942-3, Przemysl shaped the course of Europe's future. Neither Russians nor Austro-Hungarians ever recovered from their disasters. Using a huge range of sources, Watson brilliantly recreates a world of long-gone empires, broken armies and a cut-off community sliding into chaos. The siege was central to the war itself, but also a chilling harbinger of what would engulf the entire region in the coming decades, as nationalism, anti-semitism and an exterminatory fury took hold.


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In the autumn of 1914 Europe was at war. The battling powers had already suffered casualties on a scale previously unimaginable. On both the Western and Eastern fronts elaborate war plans lay in ruins and had been discarded in favour of desperate improvisation. In the West this resulted in the remorseless world of the trenches; in the East all eyes were focused on the old, In the autumn of 1914 Europe was at war. The battling powers had already suffered casualties on a scale previously unimaginable. On both the Western and Eastern fronts elaborate war plans lay in ruins and had been discarded in favour of desperate improvisation. In the West this resulted in the remorseless world of the trenches; in the East all eyes were focused on the old, beleaguered Austro-Hungarian fortress of Przemysl. The great siege that unfolded at Przemysl was the longest of the whole war. In the defence of the fortress and the struggle to relieve it Austria-Hungary suffered some 800,000 casualties. Almost unknown in the West, this was one of the great turning points of the conflict. If the Russians had broken through they could have invaded Central Europe, but by the time the fortress fell their strength was so sapped they could go no further. Alexander Watson, prize-winning author of Ring of Steel, has written one of the great epics of the First World War. Comparable to Stalingrad in 1942-3, Przemysl shaped the course of Europe's future. Neither Russians nor Austro-Hungarians ever recovered from their disasters. Using a huge range of sources, Watson brilliantly recreates a world of long-gone empires, broken armies and a cut-off community sliding into chaos. The siege was central to the war itself, but also a chilling harbinger of what would engulf the entire region in the coming decades, as nationalism, anti-semitism and an exterminatory fury took hold.

40 review for The Fortress: The Siege of Przemyśl and the Making of Europe's Bloodlands

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anthony J Bridges

    Illuminating A piece of history that was new to me. Vividly described and painfully pressed as a market for what would happen in 1941. The distrust between various communities, religions and ethic/linguistic groups is carefully and painfully, for the participants, explained. I suspect the Eastern Front of WW1 is not well known to us because obviously it wasn't "our" battlefield with our kids of life but also because the events 20 years later are more potent.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andy

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ruairi Martin

  4. 5 out of 5

    Edward Lengel

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alex Cooke

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gerard

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gerwyn

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nicky Whiting

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ifor

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrew John

  11. 4 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sweetwilliam

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elliot

  14. 4 out of 5

    Manray9

  15. 4 out of 5

    Raymond Pang

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dimitri

  17. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ed

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ha

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dеnnis

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jon Rupinski

  23. 5 out of 5

    Noelle

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael Mcquillan

  25. 4 out of 5

    USA-eVote

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Slipper

  28. 4 out of 5

    rêveur d'art

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  31. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

  32. 4 out of 5

    Slr

  33. 4 out of 5

    Des Pemberton

  34. 4 out of 5

    Evamaria

  35. 4 out of 5

    Julius

  36. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Alexander

  37. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Day

  38. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  39. 5 out of 5

    Steely Ben

  40. 4 out of 5

    S.L.

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