National Flowers: The Battle of Verdun 1916

National Flowers: The Battle of Verdun 1916NATIONAL FLOWERS: The Battle of Verdun 1916 by Kermit R. Mercer
ISBN: 9781312048447
Published by on July 21, 2014
Genres: History, General
Pages: 384

WW1HA member Kermit Mercer has found a unique way to understand the war with his novel about Verdun based on conversations with World War One poilu (French soldiers).

Mercer lived in the Verdun area while serving with the USAF. He got to know many of the veterans when they were in their early 60s and wrote down their stories in the year after he returned home. His notes were not appropriate for a formal history so he turned them into a gripping novel with insights into the hell that was the war’s longest battle.

This is not summer beach reading. The long-forgotten details about life in the Verdun trenches are surprising and enlightening, like the need to always hold utensils over a candle before eating to avoid dysentery, or how seasoned poilu could tell from the location of shell bursts that an inexperienced German artillery team was at work. In many ways, National Flowers is an excellent supplement to the recently translated memoir Poilu by Caporal Louis Barthas. This is a novel for the serious historian.

Reviewed by Steve Suddaby, past president of WW1HA