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Written in Blood: The Battles for Fortress Przemyśl in WW I

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Bloodier than Verdun, the battles for Fortress Przemyśl were pivotal to victory on the Eastern Front during the early years of World War I. Control of the fortress changed hands three times during the fall of 1914. In 1915, the Austro-Hungarian armies launched three major offensives to penetrate the Russian encirclement and relieve the 120,000 trapped in the besieged fortr Bloodier than Verdun, the battles for Fortress Przemyśl were pivotal to victory on the Eastern Front during the early years of World War I. Control of the fortress changed hands three times during the fall of 1914. In 1915, the Austro-Hungarian armies launched three major offensives to penetrate the Russian encirclement and relieve the 120,000 trapped in the besieged fortress. Drawing on myriad sources, historian Graydon A. Tunstall tells of the impossible conditions facing the garrison: starvation, "horse-meat" diets, deplorable medical care, prostitution, alcoholism, dismal morale, and a failed breakout attempt. By the time the fortress finally fell to the Russians on March 22, 1915, the Habsburg Army had sustained 800,000 casualties; the Russians, over a million. The fortress, however, had served its purpose. Tunstall argues that the besieged garrison kept the Russian army from advancing farther and obliterating the already weakening Austro-Hungarian forces at the outset of the War to End All Wars.


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Bloodier than Verdun, the battles for Fortress Przemyśl were pivotal to victory on the Eastern Front during the early years of World War I. Control of the fortress changed hands three times during the fall of 1914. In 1915, the Austro-Hungarian armies launched three major offensives to penetrate the Russian encirclement and relieve the 120,000 trapped in the besieged fortr Bloodier than Verdun, the battles for Fortress Przemyśl were pivotal to victory on the Eastern Front during the early years of World War I. Control of the fortress changed hands three times during the fall of 1914. In 1915, the Austro-Hungarian armies launched three major offensives to penetrate the Russian encirclement and relieve the 120,000 trapped in the besieged fortress. Drawing on myriad sources, historian Graydon A. Tunstall tells of the impossible conditions facing the garrison: starvation, "horse-meat" diets, deplorable medical care, prostitution, alcoholism, dismal morale, and a failed breakout attempt. By the time the fortress finally fell to the Russians on March 22, 1915, the Habsburg Army had sustained 800,000 casualties; the Russians, over a million. The fortress, however, had served its purpose. Tunstall argues that the besieged garrison kept the Russian army from advancing farther and obliterating the already weakening Austro-Hungarian forces at the outset of the War to End All Wars.

33 review for Written in Blood: The Battles for Fortress Przemyśl in WW I

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manray9

    Graydon Tunstall's Written in Blood: The Battles for Fortress Przemyśl in WW I is not a book to be read for entertainment. It contains a trove of information that, while broad in scope, lacks depth. It is a floundering narrative, disjointed and repetitive, a mere concatenation of lifeless words. I confess its pedestrian nature reduced me to skimming the final third. I simply couldn't take any more. Written in Blood: The Battles for Fortress Przemyśl spans the Przemyśl sieges that defined much of Graydon Tunstall's Written in Blood: The Battles for Fortress Przemyśl in WW I is not a book to be read for entertainment. It contains a trove of information that, while broad in scope, lacks depth. It is a floundering narrative, disjointed and repetitive, a mere concatenation of lifeless words. I confess its pedestrian nature reduced me to skimming the final third. I simply couldn't take any more. Written in Blood: The Battles for Fortress Przemyśl spans the Przemyśl sieges that defined much of the campaigning on World War I's Galician front. This information is, however, presented through some of the dullest writing I have encountered. The amateurish maps did not help. Tunstall's effort may be a good reference book for academics or students researching the campaigns of Przemyśl, but I awarded it just Two Stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Buck

    Tunstall does a much better job layout his research and thoughts in this book v Blood on the Snow. However, this still needs some good work put into it. Tunstall still has issues with chronology and subject consistency in the narrative. Instead of following a subject matter through a time arc, or following a time arc and convering the various subjects for that time, he does neither consistently and it is jarring. There is also massive overlap with Blood on the Snow due to the necessary importance Tunstall does a much better job layout his research and thoughts in this book v Blood on the Snow. However, this still needs some good work put into it. Tunstall still has issues with chronology and subject consistency in the narrative. Instead of following a subject matter through a time arc, or following a time arc and convering the various subjects for that time, he does neither consistently and it is jarring. There is also massive overlap with Blood on the Snow due to the necessary importance of the Carpathian campaigns. Understanding that the Carpathian battles of 1914-1915, as well as the various German efforts further north prior to Gorlice-Tarnow, are very key to the Przemysl sieges, there is still too MUCH detail about these elements. Probably about 60% of this work on Przemysl and the sieges is actually devoted to the Carpathian battles and their evolutions. A talented and robust editor could, if properly motivated, combined the two Tunstall works of Blood on the Snow and Written in Blood into a single book. By culling duplicated subject matter and streamlining the narrative from a chrono-subject coherence angle, the resulting book would probably be the same length as each current book, eminently more readable to those who aren't fanatically committed to finishing the texts, and more educational.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Tunstall's previous work was on the WWI Carpathian campaign, an undertaking which required not just a strong stomach, but the ability to work in multiple languages, get access to capricious Russian archives and vividly bring to life the the terrible conditions of fighting a war with modern weapons but primitive fur coats and rations that the Mongols would have rejected as primitive. Here, he finds that there was, in fact, a worse place to be--in the back and forth sieges of Fortress Przemyl, a c Tunstall's previous work was on the WWI Carpathian campaign, an undertaking which required not just a strong stomach, but the ability to work in multiple languages, get access to capricious Russian archives and vividly bring to life the the terrible conditions of fighting a war with modern weapons but primitive fur coats and rations that the Mongols would have rejected as primitive. Here, he finds that there was, in fact, a worse place to be--in the back and forth sieges of Fortress Przemyl, a crucial Eastern Front series of fortifications built by the Austrians in what is today southern Poland.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Noel

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ifor

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shrike58

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Alexander

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dimitri

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michal

  12. 5 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

  13. 5 out of 5

    Indiana University Press

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Boiko

  15. 5 out of 5

    Grigory Kislin

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dеnnis

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael Berry

  18. 5 out of 5

    Terri

  19. 4 out of 5

    Justin Seal

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chris Bolling

  21. 5 out of 5

    Oisín

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael J Fraser

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zella Kate

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kim

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Maisano

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stefan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Avis Black

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jack

  31. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  32. 4 out of 5

    Alan Bardos

  33. 4 out of 5

    Monica

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