offensive to be waged against Germany even as France poured incredible numbers of men into the slaughterhouse that was the desperate defense of Verdun.
élan vital” of the French people, a quality, he argued, that set the Gallic race apart from the rest of the world.
French losses were just under 200,000. The Germans lost at least 650,000. Just as the French refused to give up ground at Verdun, the Germans held on stubbornly at the Somme—so stubbornly that General Ludendorff actually complained that his men “fought too doggedly, clinging too resolutely to the mere holding of ground, with the result that the losses were heavy.”
The only thing “conclusive” about the Somme was the ineluctable fact of death. No battle ever fought in any conflict provided a stronger incentive for all sides to reach a negotiated peace—the “peace without victory” that Woodrow Wilson, still standing on the sidelines, urged the combatants to agree upon. Instead, the Kaiser, appalled both by Verdun and the Somme, relieved Falkenhayn and replaced him with Hindenburg and Ludendorff, who had achieved great success on the Eastern Front. The new commanders created two new defensive lines, both well behind the Somme front. On the one hand, it was a retreat. On the other, it was a commitment to draw the French and British farther east and invite them to sacrifice more of their soldiery. The modest advance the British made was but the prelude to additional slaughter.
Alan Axelrod is the author of many books on leadership, management, history, military history, corporate history, career, general business, and other nonfiction. As founder and president of The Ian Samuel Group creative services firm, he has also ghostwritten, collaborated on, or edited many more and has provided consulting services to SourceClear LLC, McKinsey and Company (New York), Takatech (New Hope, PA), David Morey Group, LLC (Washington, DC), Core Strategy Group, LLC (Atlanta), AVG Technologies USA (San Mateo, CA), and many others. Through his firm, Axelrod is currently consulting for NewsRx, the world’s largest producer of health news, as its Senior Digital Strategist, to build three publishing subsidiaries, ScholarlyEditions (an eBook reference publisher), Pubz.Me (a digital content provider), and iPaperz (a digital research provider).
After receiving his Ph.D. in English (specializing in early American literature and culture) from the University of Iowa in 1979, Axelrod taught early American literature and culture at Lake Forest College (Lake Forest, Illinois) and at Furman University (Greenville, South Carolina). He then entered scholarly publishing in 1982 as associate editor and scholar with the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum (Winterthur, Delaware), an institution specializing in the history and material culture of America prior to 1832. Axelrod is former associate editor at Van Nostrand Reinhold (New York), senior editor at Abbeville Press (New York), and vice president of Zenda, Inc. (New York and Nashville), a consulting firm to museums and cultural institutions. In 1994, he became director of development (senior acquisitions editor) for Turner Publishing, Inc. (Atlanta), a subsidiary of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., and in 1997, he founded The Ian Samuel Group, Inc., a consulting, creative services, editing, and online content provider in Atlanta.