Colonel on the verge of retirement at the start of the Great war, Philippe petain was one of the great architects of the French victory in 1914-1918, notably because of his role during the Battle of Verdun. However, he was one of the rare actors of the Great War not to have left writings and testimonies on his intense years of command, until the publication of "The World War, 1914-1918", with the Editions Privat.
An exhaustive list of all the battles
In nearly 300 pages, Marshal Pétain reproduces the course of the First World War in a precise and very factual manner. All fronts are tackled: the Western and Eastern fronts, the Balkans, Asia, maritime warfare, Africa. The tone, dry and cold, does not lend itself to analysis but only to the description of war plans and the unfolding of battles, accompanied by meticulous sketches. It is truly a war seen from above, giving little importance to the experience of the soldiers. The difficult relations maintained throughout the war between civil and military powers are not mentioned, while the passage, rather reduced, relating to the Battle of the M arne in 1914, does not even mention General Joffre - who referred to him. - even little enthusiasm to underline the role of Pétain in the battle of Verdun. The inaugural words of the historian Marc Ferro (author of several books on Pétain) allow us to recall the difficult relations maintained by Pétain with the military and civilian authorities after the Great War. The chapter proposed by Jean-Jacques Dumur makes it possible to recall the incredible fate of these writings, stored in the suitcase of an Italian mason for nearly seventy years!
For any lover of the Great War, this work, in austere writing, constitutes an important sum, providing numerous details on the progress of military operations and on the character of Pétain.
World War 1914-1918, by Philippe Pétain. Editions Privat, 2014.