NO MAN'S LAND by John Toland
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John Toland, the Pulitzer Prize-winning WW II historian, has fashioned another vivid chronicle from diaries, newspapers, and interviews. It's the story, this time, of 1918, the year the Germans launched a series of massive offensives to break the stalemate on the Western Front. With Ludendorff's big push in the Arras-La FÉre sector in March, the British were disastrously routed (""Wretched, mud-stained soldiers limped along, often without equipment or rifles. There were wounded men, too, with labels dangling from their coats, trying to avoid being crushed by the traffic, or sitting down by the roadside from sheer fatigue, their heads in their hands""). The Germans reached the outskirts of Amiens; a gleeful Kaiser watched his huge railway guns shell Paris. But one Allied Army, Toland writes, still possessed the will to fight--the untried American Expeditionary Force. Interweaving the accounts of generals and common soldiers, he takes the reader over the top at Belleau Wood, Chateau-Thierry, Soissons, St. Mihiel, and finally the Meuse-Argonne. In the St. Mihiel breakthrough alone, the Americans, led by such officers as the young Lieutenant Colonel George Patton and Colonel Douglas MacArthur, took 16,000 German prisoners. In Toland's view, it was that willingness to take risks, and the quality of the individual soldier, that proved decisive, not the Allied supremacy in tanks. There is nothing new here for the historian, perhaps, but military buffs young and old will find the book absorbing.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1980
Publisher: Doubleday