(YA) The longest, bloodiest battle of WW I was fought at Verdum. Two million men were engaged in it and half of them were killed. It was here that Petain rallied his forces with the desperate motto, ""They shall not pass."" The author uses the you-are-there approach to realistic effect by describing the battle in terms of the common soldiers on both sides as they crouched in the fetid mud, half-crazed by thirst and exhaustion, living and dying under the continuous bombardment. Officers and grand strategists are also on view, again from the foot soldier's vantage point. Individuals on both sides are followed through the siege that leveled every landmark. Mr. Blond's excellent book will stand out among the increasing number dealing with the particular battles of this war and this is a first rate translation by Frances Frenaye.