A photojournalist’s quest to capture the world’s most historic battlefields.

After a distinguished­ and death-defying career documenting conflicts around the world, Paris-based photojournalist Yan Morvan decided to seek out the scenes of the most important battles in history. Positioning his vintage 8 × 10 Deardorff view camera to capture the perspective of the soldier on the front lines, Morvan aimed to show how wars have scarred—or otherwise left imprints on—landscapes across four different continents. The result of his decadelong quest is Battlefields (Abbeville Press, 2018), a monumental volume with more than 400 photographs of 238 historic battlefields (including the selections shown in these pages). Morvan thinks of his book as a memorial to all those who have fought and died on the battlefield. “From Carthage to Austerlitz to Verdun,” he says, “the accumulation of ruins traces the deeds of humanity, covered over by the silence of nature.”

  • Trojan War, 12th century BCE, Hisarlik, Turkey
  • Siege of Carthage, 149–146 BCE, Byrsa Hill, Tunis, Tunisia Third Punic War
  • Siege of Constantinople 717–718 CE, Theodosian Walls, Istanbul, Turkey, Umayyad campaigns in Europe
  • Hadrian’s Wall, 122 CE, English countryside, near border with Scotland Roman occupation of Britain
  • Battle of Hastings, October 14, 1066, Hastings, England Norman Conquest of England
  • Jiayu Pass, Late 14th century, Jiayuguan, Gansu Province, China Planned Timurid invasion of China
  • Battle of Denain, July 24, 1712, Denain, France War of the Spanish Succession
  • Battle of Fort Necessity, July 3, 1754, Near Uniontown, Pennsylvania French and Indian War
  • Battle of Waterloo, June 18, 1815, Plains of Waterloo, Belgium Napoleonic Wars
  • Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, The Sunken Road, near Sharpsburg, Maryland American Civil War
  • Wounded Knee Massacre, December 29, 1890, Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Sioux Wars
  • Battle of Gettysburg, July 1–3, 1863, Culp’s Hill, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania American Civil War
  • Battle of the Somme, July 1–November 18, 1916, The front near Frise, France World War I
  • Battle of Verdun, February 21–December 19, 1916, The Butte de Vauquois, near Verdun, France World War I
  • Operation Neptune, June 6, 1944, WN10 bunker stronghold, Utah Beach, Normandy, France World War II
  • Battle of Dien Bien Phu, November 20, 1953–May 7, 1954, Eliane 2 position, Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam First Indochina War



This article appears in the Winter 2019 issue (Vol. 31, No. 2) of MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of Military History with the headline: Grounds for War

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