American Expeditionary Forces in the Great War (Paperback)
The Meuse Argonne 1918: Breaking the Line
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Although the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which began in late September 1918 and continued through to the Armistice, was not the first major action fought by the AEF, it was the greatest in which it engaged in the Great War. Indeed, the casualty count in the fighting at the Meuse-Argonne makes it the bloodiest battle in American military history.
The Argonne was an area that had been heavily fought over, particularly in the early part of the war; its eastern part, towards the Meuse, then became enveloped in the first great attritional battle of the war, Verdun. The area is marked by extensive woodlands and rolling countryside; however, unlike the Somme, it is interspersed with numerous waterways, deep ravines and higher ridges, along with significant hills, such as at Montfaucon.
To be frank, the opening stages of the Offensive were marked by considerable unforced difficulties for the Americans, who after all were facing a far from strong enemy opposition (however formidable the defensive line might have been). Errors were made, logistical problems multiplied, command was often less than satisfactory. In many respects this should not have come as a surprise: this was an army that was relatively new to the Western Front, which was being reinforced at an awesome rate (approximately 300,000 men a month by July) and whose senior commanders had never before faced the challenges of modern warfare, themselves evolving at a dizzying rate.
Maarten Otte gives a background narrative to events before the opening of the Offensive and its development. Taking each of the US corps in turn, he then provides tours that will help the visitor to understand the fighting and the problems that were faced. This opening book on the Meuse-Argonne takes the reader, more or less, to the date when General Pershing handed over command of the US First Army to Major General Liggard in mid October, a change in command that marked a significant improvement in the American performance as they pushed the Germans ever backwards.
The Great War battlefield of the Argonne is marked by numerous physical remains of the war, some fine (some might argue over grandiose) monuments and by the stunning American cemetery at Romagne, the second largest in the world administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission. There is much to see in a battlefield that has been largely neglected in the decades since the Second World War.
"This is a fine addition to the historiography of the fighting east of the Meuse River..."ARGunners.com
"There are dozens of photographs throughout the book; these are helpful in giving the reader a feel for the men and terrain involved. Especially helpful and interesting are present-day photographs of areas of the battlefield, including some monuments."Roads to the Great War
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Clear maps and some interesting photographs help to make this an excellent guide, for which the author is to be much congratulated.Stand To! Journal of the Western Front Association
Listed in 'MHM's round-up of the best military history titles'Military History Monthly, August 2018
Maarten Otte is a long time resident of the Argonne, whose home is in Nantillois, situated between Montfaucon and Romagne. Growing up in the Netherlands with a fascination with the Great War, some eight years ago he settled in the Argonne, where he has developed his interest in the war, particularly the role of the United States and therefore brings a very special expertise to the writing of "American Expeditionary Forces in the Great War: The Meuse Argonne 1918: Breaking the Line".Midwest Book Review
Exceptionally well researched, organized and presented, "American Expeditionary Forces in the Great War" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of maps, historic black-and-white photography, three Appendices (Order of Battle, First US Army; Composition of an American infantry division; Some notes on the AEF); a one page 'Advice for Travelers', a two page Bibliography; and a five page Index.
An invaluable and extraordinary contribution to the growing library of World War I Histories and highly recommended for both community and academic library collections...
As featured 'ON THE SHELF'Wargames Illustrated, March 2018