January 25, 2014

World War I Centenary: How the Doughboys Beat the Kaiser

How the Doughboys Beat the Kaiser is an excellent essay in the January 25-26, 2014 edition of Wall Street Journal by Nick Lloyd who is a senior lecturer at King's College London and author of the excellent new book "Hundred Days: The Campaign That Ended World War I" on the often ignored or played down role the United States had in bringing an end to the war. 

"U.S. military power helped to bring the war to an end—a prospect at which the German government scoffed in 1917. When Kaiser Wilhelm II was warned that unrestricted submarine warfare—and the losses it would inflict on the U.S. merchant fleet—might provoke U.S. belligerence, he scribbled in a memo, "I do not care." Even if the Americans did declare war on Germany, he blustered, they were just a bunch of cowboys with an army barely worthy of the name. What use would these weaklings be against Germany's legions?"

Hundred Days: The Campaign That Ended World War I 
by Nick Lloyd 

In the late summer of 1918, after four long years of senseless, stagnant fighting, the Western Front erupted. The bitter four-month struggle that ensued—known as the Hundred Days Campaign—saw some of the bloodiest and most ferocious combat of the Great War, as the Allies grimly worked to break the stalemate in the west and end the conflict that had decimated Europe.

In Hundred Days, acclaimed military historian Nick Lloyd leads readers into the endgame of World War I, showing how the timely arrival of American men and materiel—as well as the bravery of French, British, and Commonwealth soldiers—helped to turn the tide on the Western Front. Many of these battle-hardened troops had endured years of terror in the trenches, clinging to their resolve through poison-gas attacks and fruitless assaults across no man’s land. Finally, in July 1918, they and their American allies did the impossible: they returned movement to the western theater. Using surprise attacks, innovative artillery tactics, and swarms of tanks and aircraft, they pushed the Germans out of their trenches and forced them back to their final bastion: the Hindenburg Line, a formidable network of dugouts, barbed wire, and pillboxes. After a massive assault, the Allies broke through, racing toward the Rhine and forcing Kaiser Wilhelm II to sue for peace.

An epic tale ranging from the ravaged fields of Flanders to the revolutionary streets of Berlin, Hundred Days recalls the bravery and sacrifice that finally silenced the guns of Europe.

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