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Sons of Freedom: The Forgotten American Soldiers Who Defeated Germany in World War I

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The definitive history of America's decisive role in World War I The American contribution to World War I is one of the great stories of the twentieth century, and yet it has all but vanished from view. Historians have dismissed the American war effort as largely economic and symbolic. But as Geoffrey Wawro shows in Sons of Freedom, the French and British were on the verge The definitive history of America's decisive role in World War I The American contribution to World War I is one of the great stories of the twentieth century, and yet it has all but vanished from view. Historians have dismissed the American war effort as largely economic and symbolic. But as Geoffrey Wawro shows in Sons of Freedom, the French and British were on the verge of collapse in 1918, and would have lost the war without the Doughboys. Field Marshal Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, described the Allied victory as a "miracle"--but it was a distinctly American miracle. In Sons of Freedom, prize-winning historian Geoffrey Wawro weaves together in thrilling detail the battles, strategic deliberations, and dreadful human cost of the American war effort--first defending Paris, and then cutting the German army's lifeline in the Meuse-Argonne. A major revision of the history of World War I, Sons of Freedom resurrects the brave heroes who saved the Allies, defeated Germany, and established the United States as the greatest of the great powers.


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The definitive history of America's decisive role in World War I The American contribution to World War I is one of the great stories of the twentieth century, and yet it has all but vanished from view. Historians have dismissed the American war effort as largely economic and symbolic. But as Geoffrey Wawro shows in Sons of Freedom, the French and British were on the verge The definitive history of America's decisive role in World War I The American contribution to World War I is one of the great stories of the twentieth century, and yet it has all but vanished from view. Historians have dismissed the American war effort as largely economic and symbolic. But as Geoffrey Wawro shows in Sons of Freedom, the French and British were on the verge of collapse in 1918, and would have lost the war without the Doughboys. Field Marshal Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, described the Allied victory as a "miracle"--but it was a distinctly American miracle. In Sons of Freedom, prize-winning historian Geoffrey Wawro weaves together in thrilling detail the battles, strategic deliberations, and dreadful human cost of the American war effort--first defending Paris, and then cutting the German army's lifeline in the Meuse-Argonne. A major revision of the history of World War I, Sons of Freedom resurrects the brave heroes who saved the Allies, defeated Germany, and established the United States as the greatest of the great powers.

52 review for Sons of Freedom: The Forgotten American Soldiers Who Defeated Germany in World War I

  1. 4 out of 5

    P.e. lolo

    I try to read most books that I come across about World War I since my Grandfather fought in the war but did not talk about it. I still have his uniform and other items from that time. That being said the author takes an in-depth look at our involvement in the war. We started in April of 1917 but was so far behind training, and having men ready that it was not until 1918 that the troops would arrive in France. Perishing would fight with both English and French leaders the U.S. Force would remain I try to read most books that I come across about World War I since my Grandfather fought in the war but did not talk about it. I still have his uniform and other items from that time. That being said the author takes an in-depth look at our involvement in the war. We started in April of 1917 but was so far behind training, and having men ready that it was not until 1918 that the troops would arrive in France. Perishing would fight with both English and French leaders the U.S. Force would remain separate. He would at times have the Marines in with the Army forces. The author takes you through different battles. The first to the very last. You get to see how the Marines would use machine guns and then advance, where the Army would just leave the trenches and attack by the sheer number of men, with no machine gun cover or artillery. In the beginning, Pershing did not think those were vital in any success. He wanted officers to have men leave the trenches and attack over open fields where the Germans already had fields of fire already targeted because they had been there for years. You get to see the politics of the Army that if you argued with Pershing your career as an officer was most likely over, of course, your men probably liked you the ones that made it out. The author will show you through maps the different battles and how each one changed the course of the war. He also shows you how Germany may have been able to win Europe before we entered but they stopped an advance because of supplies. All of this led to us coming in and being to actually move the Line that had been still for years but for us to also outflank them. This began the fall inside of the German hierarchy and then surrender. You, of course, will names like York, Truman who would become President, the story of the lost Battalion which really was not lost just farther ahead of everyone else during an attack in the Argonne Forest. What was sad about that is years after the war Maj. Charles Whittlesey committed suicide because he felt he let his men down by not leaving and fighting, sad. There are many, many more stories like this in this book and the author does a fine job showing you the good thing said about Pershing, and also the criticism. A lot of Veterans and families of veterans were not pleased with him and the way he wanted attacks to be done with the sheer number of men without any support from artillery, machine guns, or even from the air. When the Germans were using all of these successfully. I will also say the few battles that were led by the Marines, which used machine gun cover fire were more successful as far as fewer casualties for A.E.F. Overall I really enjoyed this book and I know that it is a history book but I think next year I will read it again. I received this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com

  2. 5 out of 5

    Craig Pearson

    I was quite happy when starting this book because it was very easy to read and the author clearly expressed the lead up to the United States involvement in World War I. As with any book about the war it became very complicated trying to keep up with all the battles, locations, combatants, and politicians. This book a better read than most but it does have some issues. The common term for American soldiers was Doughboys but the author utilized the rarely used term of Doughs throughout the book. V I was quite happy when starting this book because it was very easy to read and the author clearly expressed the lead up to the United States involvement in World War I. As with any book about the war it became very complicated trying to keep up with all the battles, locations, combatants, and politicians. This book a better read than most but it does have some issues. The common term for American soldiers was Doughboys but the author utilized the rarely used term of Doughs throughout the book. Very annoying. Maps are a critical component of a military history text and just having them is not enough. They must be detailed without being cluttered and useless. Here they could be larger scale and be more numerous with legends. The author does get confused when describing the behaviour of american combat troops. He switches back and forth with high praise and abysmal action when in contact with the enemy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ben House

    Sons of Freedom by Geoffrey Wawro is published by Basic Books. Dr. Wawro is a professor of history at the University of North Texas and the author of six books (four of which I now own). As the subtitle explains, this book is about “The Forgotten American Soldiers Who Defeated Germany in World War I.” I noticed a review that called this book “the definitive history” regarding America’s role in the war. I agree. This book is a lengthy and powerful account of how America’s entry on the actual battle Sons of Freedom by Geoffrey Wawro is published by Basic Books. Dr. Wawro is a professor of history at the University of North Texas and the author of six books (four of which I now own). As the subtitle explains, this book is about “The Forgotten American Soldiers Who Defeated Germany in World War I.” I noticed a review that called this book “the definitive history” regarding America’s role in the war. I agree. This book is a lengthy and powerful account of how America’s entry on the actual battlefields enabled the Allies to win the war. By 1918, both sides in the war were exhausted, bled white, and worn down by the grueling multiple fronts. Russia was finished by then. Revolution ended what the war itself had started on the Eastern Front. Italy was basically caput as well. How Austria-Hungary was hanging on is still beyond me. But there was Germany, now reinforcing the Western Front (the border areas in northern France and Belgium where the war had been raging since August of 1914). Freed from the Eastern Front, Germany was racing more and more divisions to the west. Under the command of the talented, but sometimes unbalanced, Erich von Ludendorff, the German army began a series of offenses against the British and French lines. Any one of the offensive actions could easily have translated into the needed breakthrough that would have divided the Allied forces, pushed the British back into a Dunkirk situation (years before Dunkirk), or captured Paris. The spent forces of the British and French armies sustained the front lines, but barely. The German forces erred most greatly in shifting from one offense to the next instead of maintaining pressure in just one area. But also, and most important, the American forces began hitting the fields of battle. The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. But it took a year before the United States was able to start massing still under-trained and unequipped soldiers on French soil. Still, they were fresh troops, and so they began the process of filling in the gaps on the battlefields. The American commander was General John J. Pershing. Pershing’s greatest legacy in the war was his continual insistence on American troops being able to operate independently as American armies and not as replacements and gap fillers for the Allies. In some cases, Americans got some useful baptism of fire by being used alongside of the British and French troops. But the goal was always an independent field of action by the U. S. Army. Pershing fought hard against his fellow Allied commanders to achieve this. On the negative side, he was greatly underequipped as a commander to lead an army in this type of war. He was somehow stuck in a time warp, not always realizing how the war had been fought for the past several years. Americans focused on the offensive. (So had every other major army for the previous years.) In 1918, America had one resource that no other country had–a huge supply of troops. The American muscle was just beginning to be flexed as the troops began pouring into France. Sad to say, much of the story and much of the book is about the tremendous bloodbath Americans were thrown into in taking this war to the Germans. Germany was a spent force, but far from a finished force by 1918. They still had plenty of crack troops, plenty of machine gun and artillery emplacements, and an abundance of fighting experience. Americans were the deciding factor in Germany’s defeat, but this was no cake-walk. Even though Sons of Freedom is a lengthy and heavily detailed book, I found it engrossing. Granted, there were flank attacks, repulses, commander changes (many, in fact), and other details that slipped right my mind. Yet, the larger picture of this book was of the Americans pushing and hitting the German lines and, even with mounting casualties and increasing numbers of deserters, and winning the war.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mike Siems

    Both sides, the Allies and the Central powers, couldn’t light fires because they’d be destroyed by artillery so they suffered in the wet mud and cold, many shoeless and diseased, in misery waiting to go over the top and die. One of many WWI facts I missed as a history major featured by Wawro in this awesome book. Didn’t understand how unprepared the US was and how many lives were lost due to troop charges barely supported by artillery, heavy guns or aircraft. US lives were simply traded for an A Both sides, the Allies and the Central powers, couldn’t light fires because they’d be destroyed by artillery so they suffered in the wet mud and cold, many shoeless and diseased, in misery waiting to go over the top and die. One of many WWI facts I missed as a history major featured by Wawro in this awesome book. Didn’t understand how unprepared the US was and how many lives were lost due to troop charges barely supported by artillery, heavy guns or aircraft. US lives were simply traded for an Allied victory.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael Samerdyke

    This book does a good job at covering the ordeal of the American army in the First World War. When it comes to accounts of combat, this book can't be topped. The maps are both uninformative and too few. When it comes to the big picture, I had a lot of problems with this book. Wawro states that the Americans defeated Germany on the battlefield, that is, there was no "stab in the back." However, when he talks about the American breakthrough, he talks about how the German political situation and home This book does a good job at covering the ordeal of the American army in the First World War. When it comes to accounts of combat, this book can't be topped. The maps are both uninformative and too few. When it comes to the big picture, I had a lot of problems with this book. Wawro states that the Americans defeated Germany on the battlefield, that is, there was no "stab in the back." However, when he talks about the American breakthrough, he talks about how the German political situation and home front was collapsing, how the Germans who were taken prisoner were out of food, etc. He seems to undercut his argument for a clean-cut American military victory. He clearly despises Woodrow Wilson and can't write about him without his contempt for Wilson showing. It seems he also views Sec. of War Newton D. Baker with contempt in what little he writes about Baker. Pershing starts out looking heroic and sensible, but then is revealed as much the same kind of general as Haig, one who orders his soldiers forward into slaughter with little understanding of what they faced. It isn't until we get down to Colonel George C. Marshall that we find someone who seems to know what is going on. Which raises the question, if the war effort was so badly run, how was victory possible. Then there is the issue of peace and the Allies. Wawro hates Wilson, he hates Lodge, he hates the whole Treaty fight in the Senate. Wilson, in his view, by betting everything on the League of Nations, makes World War II possible. However, Wawro also views the British and French with disdain, because they (in his telling) deceive and trap Wilson. Finally, Wawro ends this book with a quote from "Casablanca" about Americans marching into Berlin at the end of World War I. But the Americans never reached Berlin in World War I or the aftermath. For a historian to end a book on such a note strikes me as irresponsible.

  6. 5 out of 5

    James Lurie

    This is a history of WWI and the role of the US Army (and Marines) from the period before the war through Wilson's failure to get the Treaty of Versailles and the proposed entry to the League of Nations ratified. There are clear analyses of the personalities and strategies of the British, French, and Americans against the Central Powers and, regrettably, among themselves. I've read dozens of WWII histories, but the details of what was really the first phase of WWII were far less familiar. You ge This is a history of WWI and the role of the US Army (and Marines) from the period before the war through Wilson's failure to get the Treaty of Versailles and the proposed entry to the League of Nations ratified. There are clear analyses of the personalities and strategies of the British, French, and Americans against the Central Powers and, regrettably, among themselves. I've read dozens of WWII histories, but the details of what was really the first phase of WWII were far less familiar. You get to understand the strengths, and many weaknesses, principals such as Americans Wilson and Pershing, French Foch and Clemenceau, and British Lloyd George and Haig. For a history buff, the book is fascinating, but there is a little too much recitation of the tactical maneuvers of individual divisions of each of the principal combatants; at times I felt as though I needed to spread out a detailed map of northeast France just to keep the activities clear; I quickly decided, however, to simply skim over those sections. Ignoring tactics, you get a great understanding of the underlying strategies, and the supporting tactical foolishness that led to the carnage. A lot of good personal vignettes. Warning: this book is about armies on the march and contains a good deal of unedited profanity and gore that is inherent in war on the front lines.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Saunders

    Geoffrey Wawro's Sons of Freedom offers an energetic narrative of America’s military involvement in the First World War. Wawro essentially skims over the war’s background and political leaders (unlike G.J. Meyer's recent work), opting to focus on the American Expeditionary Force’s experiences in the climax of the Western Front. Wawro insists that American intervention in the war was decisive, coming at a moment when Britain and France’s armies were on the verge of collapse and unable to stop the Geoffrey Wawro's Sons of Freedom offers an energetic narrative of America’s military involvement in the First World War. Wawro essentially skims over the war’s background and political leaders (unlike G.J. Meyer's recent work), opting to focus on the American Expeditionary Force’s experiences in the climax of the Western Front. Wawro insists that American intervention in the war was decisive, coming at a moment when Britain and France’s armies were on the verge of collapse and unable to stop the Germans in their Spring Offensive without a massive infusion of American reinforcements, materiel and morale. Despite claims on the dust jacket that this argument’s “revisionist,” it’s actually a well-worn, constantly-argued interpretation of events; how valid it is comes down to the individual reader. Regardless, the book’s main virtues are its immediacy and quick-paced narrative, offering blow-by-blow accounts, alternately exciting and horrific, of the AEF’s battles and the experiences of the Doughboys, quickly trained and thrown into a maelstrom, forced to become an expert army under fire. By Wawro’s account, at least, they succeeded handsomely.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Difficult but worth the effort! This well written book was difficult to read but worth the effort. The highly detailed description of events were tedious at times, but necessary. The brutalities described were also difficult to read, but necessary for an accurate telling as well.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

  11. 5 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erik

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  14. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Noel

  15. 4 out of 5

    Grouchy Historian

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Bradley

  18. 5 out of 5

    Barry Lippitt

  19. 4 out of 5

    Isaac

  20. 4 out of 5

    Two Readers in Love

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robert Antulov

  22. 5 out of 5

    NK Finney

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  25. 5 out of 5

    happy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael Kovan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jon Rupinski

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nissa

  29. 5 out of 5

    Josh Lile

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  31. 4 out of 5

    Sonnet

  32. 4 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

  33. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  34. 4 out of 5

    PG Pariseau

  35. 4 out of 5

    Sotiris Karaiskos

  36. 4 out of 5

    Ammonius

  37. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Meridith

  38. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

  39. 4 out of 5

    Amy Lafleur Meyers

  40. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  41. 4 out of 5

    Randy

  42. 5 out of 5

    Brandy

  43. 4 out of 5

    Ian

  44. 5 out of 5

    Darrin Jordan

  45. 4 out of 5

    Nevada Public Library

  46. 5 out of 5

    Jack Wilkerson

  47. 4 out of 5

    James E.

  48. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

  49. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  50. 5 out of 5

    A.

  51. 4 out of 5

    LDC

  52. 4 out of 5

    Danp500

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