nisiprius wrote:I liked it. I learned some history. If you're interested in WWI and already know you like Shaara, I'd definitely read it, though if you're a WWI buff you may already know the history. BTW The Killer Angels isn't by Jeff Shaara; it's by his father, Michael Shaara.
Thanks for the info. I keep forgetting that there were two Shaaras, probably because I've only read the one book by either of them.
Regarding his premise about the American role, I haven't yet read widely enough to have an informed opinion on that. My impression is that all of the major powers were nearly exhausted by early 1918 when the Americans started showing up in large numbers, so they may well have decided the outcome, or at least the timing of the outcome. Had they entered the war earlier, they might have played a less noticeable role simply because their numbers were far smaller than those of the Europeans.
I have a Kindle from a few years ago, but have largely given up on it for various reasons, poor image quality certainly being one of them.
First you had the immense American industrial machine. Also by that time most combatants would have been starving (and the Germans were actually starving) if American food had not been available, carried often in American ships. This was all available to the British before America formally entered the war, but the entry opened up American credit (not sure if the borrowing had begun before as well), which was also key.
The USN was pretty important in finishing off the U Boat war, as I recall.
I cannot remember the exact size of Black Jack Pershing's American Expeditionary Force but I believe it numbered several hundred thousand. That, plus all the new aircraft and other materiel the Americans brought was crucial- -airplanes, tanks to break the front line, etc.. The French and the British (and the Germans) were exhausted and had run out of fresh soldiers-- that year's 18 year olds was what you had.
So the Americans completely tipped the balance, a key role in the final offensives. Without it the Allies would have lost, or been forced into some kind of Armistice with Germany on much worse terms. The Bolsheviks under Lenin had signed a humiliating peace treaty granting the Germans control of the vast fertile fields and coal mines of the Ukraine, and in another harvest that would have been a huge advantage.
Of course what we know now is that the 1919 Spanish flu lay ahead, which killed as many people as the war-- how that would have changed the strategic balance I do not know.
What I can't strike the balance between (and John Keegan is the first place I'd look being an Americophile but a serious military historian) is between the American industrial and raw materials available *before* the USA declared war, and the actual US forces. But those forces were substantial enough, in 1918, to tip the balance. Remembering that only weeks earlier the British and French had been in full retreat against the German advance which apparently had finally broken through the nightmare of 'No Man's Land' and the trenches.