The popular conception of World War I centers on hellish trench warfare and all its horrors. While it is undeniable that the war was won and lost on the Western Front, the lines stretching back across the Atlantic that brought men and desperately needed supplies into the theater of operations played an essential part in Allied victory.
July 15th 1918 saw the start of the fifth and final German offensive of the First World War. On that day, the Germans launched the opening phase of the Second Battle of the Marne, Codenamed Operation Marneschutz-Reims, shifting the entire momentum of the war from the Central Powers to the Entente. One of the key factors contributing to this shift was tactical combat intelligence.
In the two largest wars this planet has ever experienced, the authority and influence of civilians over military affairs assured victory in one and the lack of such brought total and utter defeat in another. Therefore, in the grand scheme of things, civil control of the military has proven its value not only as an avenue for better governance, but as a strategic asset capable of providing the necessary leverage to achieve victory in wartime.
Giangreco’s study fills a vacuum in the literature on Truman. There are many biographies of him, but they deal only briefly with his life before the end of World War I. Giangreco provides thorough coverage of Truman’s career in the military, both as a citizen soldier and then later after the U.S. government federalized his National Guard unit.
U.S. policymakers and military strategists have been too slow to appreciate the changes going on around them. If the defense establishment fixates on building a more lethal force at the expense of investment in emerging areas of military competition, it will fail in these new domains, perhaps catastrophically.
Kaplan has provided a window into the thoughts, struggles, fears, and triumphs of these soldiers from a century ago as they fought the Germans while mastering the most advanced technologies of their modern world. They were not much different that those who soldier on today in the face of fast-paced change and an evolving character of war. These personal reminiscences of service in the tanks illustrate the fortitude required to fight the enemy, bureaucracy, and non-believers in fielding the capabilities needed to win on the modern battlefield.
Leonhard sets out not simply to write a history of events, but to help his reader understand the greater meaning of the war for the participants (who included virtually everyone in the world to one extent or another) and to us in the twenty-first century. And to arrive at that understanding he identifies a collection of leitmotifs that provided the living reality for the people of the time: realities of social condition, class, economics, demographics, relationship to local culture as well as to state and nation for example, but also of aspirations, possibilities, experiences, expectations, and people’s (ruling elite, bourgeoisie, working class) general knowledge of both the world and the local neighborhood.
The United States Marine Corps entered World War I as a small arm of naval infantry. Three decades later, the Marine Corps was poised for war with enhanced amphibious and aviation capabilities that proved vital in defeating Imperial Japan. Pivotal to the transformation of the Marine Corps was the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918.
Despite having the strongest air force in the world at the conclusion of the First World War, Britain faced a prominent strategic threat posed by a sizable French bomber force and the creation of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force. To counter the threat, the British created the world’s first integrated air defense system—a synchronized nexus comprised of radar to detect enemy aircraft, a command and control network to relay warnings, and fighter aircraft to challenge threats.
The Unknowns is a great book on the topic that surrounds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War. It’s also a good single volume work on the American Expeditionary Force’s involvement and experiences in the First World War. This book will resonate in military affairs and veteran organization. Finally, this book is a great read for anyone interested in the United States Marine Corps involvement in the First World War.
Success will not only be a matter of mere military adaptability, but above all the result of a political, popular, and military convergence, especially if reserves or conscripts are to be used as force multipliers. Therefore, officers should develop a political understanding of their profession within society.
German troops to the southeast, at Verdun, were advancing further into French territory and the French Army was hurling itself at their lines to try and force the Germans to retreat. The entire idea behind the Somme offensive was to take pressure off the French forces at Verdun, while success or failure at the Somme was almost an afterthought. If there was any doubt in Foch’s mind, there does not seem so to those looking at the Somme from the remove of a century.
The movie “Goodbye Christopher Robin” is a movie about war. About a war so big, so terrible, that it defies description. It is also a movie about a society in denial, where the wounds of war are ever-present, but unseen –– in those who came back, but also in those who were left behind waiting for them. “Goodbye Christopher Robin” is a nuanced movie since the best way to talk about war is in a nuanced manner. The big dry numbers are lost on people –– one can’t grasp the millions, the faceless, uniformed icons, killed and wounded. The ferocity of war can never be truly described in anyway meaningful. On the contrary, the pyrotechnics of modern cinema might only cheapen it by making entertainment out of the unimaginable. Maybe war can better be understood by and about the individual. By one’s story; by one’s suffering. And the suffering that is best understood is not that experienced in war, but after it ends. It is also best understood by the suffering of loved ones; even those only born because of the war, never to be in it themselves.
What best explains the German General Staff’s decision to go to war in 1914? Was Alfred von Schlieffen’s war plan a self-fulfilling prophecy that pushed the Triple Entente to balance together against Germany? This article argues that the best, most recent scholarship concerning the impact of pre-war German military planning depicts a situation in which not one, but a multitude of of causal factors led Germany to go to war in 1914.
The essence of war is a competitive reciprocal relationship with an adversary possessing the capacity to make choices in battle. It is impossible to anticipate and predict with precision the contours of all future conflicts and the opponent’s strategy and discrete choices on the battlefield. Recognizing the need to adapt and implement the requisite changes is therefore inherent to the nature of war. The clash of arms is, therefore, also a competition in cycles of learning, reaction, or counteraction. The side that reacts best, and perhaps faster, increases their chances of success.
Crisis at Sea is an exhaustive study of the U.S. Navy in the European theater. William Still brings a remarkable attention to detail in his latest volume, providing a thorough account of America’s role at sea in the First World War. Eleven years after its publication, this is still the definitive resource for its subject, and likely will remain so for many years to come.
Our historical image of Woodrow Wilson reflects this tendency. We label individuals and ideas as “Wilsonian” if they exhibit a utopian vision of the world as it should be based on a set of moral ideas that, often times, appear quaint or naive. Rarely in the twenty-first century do we believe that being “Wilsonian” is a good thing, though many argue that neoconservatives and liberal interventionists both share principles borrowed from the twenty-eighth president. Our vision of Wilson, top hat on head and moralistic 14 Points in his coat pocket, being hailed by the war-fatigued European countries, must be bookended by his return to America, hat now in hand, begging the nation to approve the League of Nations. In this way, his failure and his series of strokes conveniently play out as a Grecian tragedy with an American chorus passing judgment on a president consumed with hubris.
Hugh Sebag-Montefiore took advantage of the Somme’s centenary year to publish "Somme: Into the Breach," a weighty and well-documented volume privileging the voices and accounts of the men who fought it. He uses letters and diaries to resurrect the combatants as real men, husbands and fathers, while showing us unflinchingly how they suffered and died.