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Books > History > Military > Strategy > 0700614990
  1. America's Deadliest Battle: Meuse-Argonne, 1918 (Modern War Studies)
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  2. America's Deadliest Battle: Meuse-Argonne, 1918 (Modern War Studies)

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    Customer Ratings (12 reviews)
    Price R1868.00

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American fighting men had never seen the likes of it before. The great battle of the Meuse-Argonne was the costliest conflict in American history, with 26,000 men killed and tens of thousands wounded. Involving 1.2 million American troops over 47 days, it ended on November 11-what we now know as Armistice Day-and brought an end to World War I, but at a great price. Distinguished historian Robert Ferrell now looks back at this monumental struggle to create the definitive study of the battle-and to determine just what made it so deadly. Ferrell reexamines factors in the war that many historians have chosen to disregard. He points first to the failure of the Wilson administration to mobilize the country for war. American industry had not been prepared to produce the weaponry or transport ships needed by our military, and the War Department-with outmoded concepts of battle shaped by the Spanish-American War-shared equal blame in failing to train American soldiers for a radically new type of warfare. Once in France, undertrained American doughboys were forced to learn how to conduct mobile warfare through bloody experience. Ferrell assesses the soldiers' lack of skill in the use of artillery, the absence of tactics for taking on enemy machine gun nests, and the reluctance of American officers to use poison gas-even though by 1918 it had become a staple of warfare. In all of these areas, the German army held the upper hand. Ferrell relates how, during the last days of the Meuse-Argonne, the American divisions had finally learned up-to-date tactics, and their final attack on November 1 is now seen as a triumph of military art. Yet even as the armistice was being negotiated, some American officers-many of whom had never before commanded men in battle-continued to spur their troops on, wasting more lives in an attempt to take new ground mere hours before the settlement. Besides the U.S. shortcomings in mobilization and tactics, Ferrell points to the greatest failure of all: the failure to learn from the experience, as after the armistice the U.S. Army retreated to its prewar mindset. Enhanced by more than four dozen maps and photographs, America's Deadliest Battle is a riveting revisit to the forests of France that reminds us of the costs of World War I-and of the shadow that it cast on the twentieth century.

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Robert H. Ferrell
First Edition
University Press of Kansas
University Press of Kansas
University Press of Kansas
University Press of Kansas
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

As Ferrell says in his introduction, most Americans today don't know much about our country's involvement in the First World War, despite its influence on the following century and the world we live in today. This volume gives a wonderfully succinct overview of America's entry into the war in 1917, including justified criticism of President Wilson and Sec. of War Baker's inability to put the nation quickly on a total war footing... faults that were, as the author points out, primary in the Meuse-Argonne being the deadliest battle in US history.

Ferrell moves the history along quickly, giving brief overviews of the AEF's smaller battles throughout the spring and summer of 1918 (Cantigny, Belleau Wood, etc) and the reduction of the St. Mihiel Salient in September of that year. He paints a vivid portrait of the failings of US logistics and planning and is equally critical of many divisional and brigade commanders, although he finds little fault with Pershing.

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One buys an otherwise unknown work of nonfiction because it looks like it will have information in it helpful to one's own research. This book certainly does excellent information, but I have personal point of research and the book fell a bit short of the mark in that regard. This is no fault of the book. The problem is my own in that I am searching for very specific material that this work did not happen to address. It is still an excellent piece of work and is easy to recommend.
The author does an excellent job in detailing the specific
causes of the enormous loss of life in this campaign. He does not hesitate to point out how the previous attitudes toward isolationism, controversy over a regular army as compared to a militia, the probems with the logistics of developing military strength quickly and the failure of corporations to deliver on contracts all combined to create a situation with inadequately trained soldiers who had little equipment
being sent into battle with the foregone conclusion of a tremendous loss of life. Mr. Ferrell is an accomplished writer who understands and describes the personalities of the commanders whose actions determined the outcome of the campaigns. This book goes beyond a simple reiteration of which troops fought in which battles in which areas and describes
the people whose decisions, often based on personal interests and attitudes affected this deadly war. It is a fascinating story.
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