Non-Book Review: Forty-Seven Days

Forty-Seven Days:  How Pershing’s Warriors Came Of Age To Defeat The German Army In World War I, by Mitchell Yockelson

This is the fourth of the books on World War I [1], and it is pretty plain to see that the volume is a lot different than the other volumes I have read so far.  For one, this particular volume is written by a mainstream press instead of an academic press, and its interests appear to be greatly different as a result.  There is a striking chasm between books written about military history for a mass audience and those written to a scholarly audience, and although this is something I studied in graduate school, it is striking to see it in such bold relief in actually reading this collection of books for an epic book review project.  The books on academic history, whatever their aim, are looking to engage in the prosography of World War I from the point of view of the soldier and his experience, drawing on specific data points or an analysis of the data as a whole to make more general conclusions and point to the complex relationships between the WWI American army and the larger society.  This book, on the other hand, appears to be a somewhat straightforward triumphalist work that gives a great deal of praise to Pershing, who is nearly absent in the other accounts, and which does not appear to address the many and serious concerns about logistics and morale on a serious basis.

In terms of its structure and organization, this book at least looks to be a gripping and exciting read, and that is something to appreciate, at least.  The slightly more than 300 pages of this book’s narrative focus on leadership–Pershing’s certainly, but those of less familiar people as well as those who would be familiar in World War II, like Patton, but who were junior officers here.  The book also focuses on battles–St. Mihel, the Meuse-Argonne, and only spends a few chapters dealing with issues behind the lines.  As I have read, much to my deep compassion, my ancestors who fought in World War I at such cost to themselves had a terrible experience in many ways–their training was immensely poor and the logistics capacity of the American Army was not up to snuff.  This book spends at least a chapter or so looking at the second issue, but appears to have an aim to promote the idea that with gung-ho leadership and brave soldiers that any material shortcomings can be overcome.  Let us hope that the account is more nuanced than this.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/05/17/non-book-review-thunder-and-flames/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/05/10/non-book-review-doughboys-on-the-great-war/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/05/10/non-book-review-pershings-crusaders/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History, Military History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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