Thunder And Flames: Americans In The Crucible Of Combat, 1917-1918 by Edward G. Lengel
This is the third World War I book I received as part of an epic book review project . So far there has been an overall theme that connects all of these books together, and that is the fact that all of them look at the experience of the Doughboys in war. Some books look at the experiences of the soldiers themselves and how they viewed going off to war as a solemn responsibility in which they felt a great sense of duty that owed much to the experience of the Civil War generation before them. Some books examine the criminal failures of logistics and supply that led the soldiers to go off to war unprepared in handling the weapons of contemporary war and left them without adequate uniforms and food, inducing many to engage in liberal foraging in ostensibly friendly territory. I am not sure what this book will provide, but given its title I think we can expect that the book looks at the experience of the World War I vet in combat, and how their callow and bumptious pride in their own valor and bravery met up against the harsh experience of war  on the Western Front of World War I.
In terms of its contents, the book is around 370 pages before some copious endnotes. Like some of the other books I have read, it is a part of the Modern War Studies serious published by the University of Kansas Press. In terms of its material, the book covers mostly forgotten engagements like Cantigny, Chateau-Thierry, Belleau Wood, the defense of the Marne, Soissons, the Aisne-Marne campaign, Fismette, and Saint-Mihiel. Most of these names are known only to students of World War I military history and I look forward to seeing the experience of the soldiers in these places. This looks to be a book with a great deal of poignant descriptions of suffering and difficulty and also great bravery, which makes sense given the way that this war proved to be so immensely destructive in my own family. What was formed in the crucible of forgotten conflict? Was it an appreciation that one had done a great and difficult task in immensely challenging circumstances? Was it a sense of anger at a nation with incompetent logistical capabilities that refused to pay its debt to those whose service was coerced and manipulated and then forgotten and cast aside as worthless, or somewhere in between? It is, to be sure, a complicated and compelling tale, and one well worth knowing.
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