The best books on World War I and America's role in it

Stephen L. Harris Author Of Duty, Honor, Privilege: New York City's Silk Stocking Regiment and the Breaking of the Hindenburg Line
By Stephen L. Harris

Who am I?

Reading my great uncle’s war letters home to Kansas City and seeing his artwork—he was a magazine illustrator in civilian life and then editor of the 27th Empire Division’s magazine, Gas Attack—I knew, as a writer, I had to put his story down on paper. What his National Guard regiment did, the 107th, simply blew me away. From writing about what the 107th endured in the Great War, I was carried away to tackle the all-black 369th Regiment, famously known as Harlem’s Hell Fighters. I then had to tell the story of New York City’s most famous regiment, the Fighting 69th. My trilogy of New York’s National Guard in the war is now done.


I wrote...

Duty, Honor, Privilege: New York City's Silk Stocking Regiment and the Breaking of the Hindenburg Line

By Stephen L. Harris,

Book cover of Duty, Honor, Privilege: New York City's Silk Stocking Regiment and the Breaking of the Hindenburg Line

What is my book about?

On September 29, 1918, a regiment of volunteers from New York State, many of them rich boys from Manhattan, attacked the feared Hindenburg Line, one of the strongest defensive systems ever devised. At a frightful cost, suffering more killed on a single day than any other regiment in American history, they broke the enemy and helped conclude World War.

The books I picked & why

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No Man's Land: 1918 The Last Year of the Great War

By John Toland,

Book cover of No Man's Land: 1918 The Last Year of the Great War

Why this book?

Pulitzer-Prize winning author Toland, in a riveting style, gives us a detailed account of what it was like on the Western Front in 1918 for the British and French armies, their leaders and their soldiers, but more importantly for America, its crucial role and for its men, from President Wilson and General Pershing down to the mud-splattered private on the frontlines. He also delves into the Russia Revolution. When you finish this book, you get a full understanding of the war and what it was like during that last year.

No Man's Land: 1918 The Last Year of the Great War

By John Toland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Man's Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From freezing infantrymen huddled in bloodied trenches on the front lines to intricate political maneuvering and tense strategy sessions in European capitals, noted historian John Toland tells of the unforgettable final year of the First World War. As 1918 opened, the Allies and Central Powers remained locked in a desperate, bloody stalemate, despite the deaths of millions of soldiers over the previous three and a half years. The arrival of the Americans "over there" by the middle of the year turned the tide of war, resulting in an Allied victory in November. In these pages participants on both sides, from…


The Doughboys: The Story of the AEF, 1917-1918

By Laurence Stallings,

Book cover of The Doughboys: The Story of the AEF, 1917-1918

Why this book?

Stallings was there, on the frontlines, fighting. He was wounded, lost a leg. He received the Croix de Guerre from the French government and the Silver Star and Purple Heart from his government. Reading his book, you’re right there with the first Americans landing in France and then following them and those who came after right up until the armistice on November 11, 1918. He also published an award-winning photographic history of the war, wrote a novel about his experiences and, in 1924, with playwright Maxwell Anderson, co-wrote the famous play that twice was turned into a movie, “What Price Glory.” If you want to know what World War I was like for America, it’s well worth the read.

The Doughboys: The Story of the AEF, 1917-1918

By Laurence Stallings,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Doughboys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

nice vintage book/no DJ/blue boards/no markings/ tight binding/BEST VALUE/FAST SHIPPING/OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE/


The Illusion Of Victory: America In World War I

By Thomas Fleming,

Book cover of The Illusion Of Victory: America In World War I

Why this book?

The late historian, Thomas Fleming, was a friend. It was an article he wrote for American Heritage magazine in 1968, “Two Argonnes,” about his father, a lieutenant in the 78th Division, that inspired me to write my first World War I book centered on my great uncle as the main character, Duty, Honor, Privilege: New York’s Silk Stocking Regiment and the Breaking of the Hindenburg Line. The author of 19 books, The Illusion of Victory, his last book, Fleming paints a different picture of America’s role in the war, showing how President Wilson and our country were “duped” by Great Britain and France to enter the war, thinking the war was almost won. He not only writes about the Western Front, but goes into detail about the home front. After reading his book, you’ll get a different perspective on World War I. In 2020, to honor one of our most imminent historians, Military History Quarterly magazine inaugurated the annual Thomas Fleming Award for outstanding military history writing.

The Illusion Of Victory: America In World War I

By Thomas Fleming,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Illusion Of Victory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this sweeping historical canvas, Thomas Fleming undertakes nothing less than a drastic revision of our experience in World War I. He reveals how the British and French duped Wilson into thinking the war was as good as won, and there would be no need to send an army overseas. He describes a harried president making speech after speech proclaiming America's ideals while supporting espionage and sedition acts that sent critics to federal prisons. And he gives a harrowing account of how the Allies did their utmost to turn the American Expeditionary Force into cannon fodder on the Western Front.Thoroughly…


Borrowed Soldiers, Volume 17: Americans Under British Command, 1918

By Mitchell A. Yockelson,

Book cover of Borrowed Soldiers, Volume 17: Americans Under British Command, 1918

Why this book?

A leading archivist at the Modern Military Records Branch at the National Archives, Yockelson, another good friend, tackled a subject rarely covered, United States troops attached to the British where they fought with very little recognition back home for their valor on the battlefields of Flanders and the Somme. Two National Guard divisions, the 27th from New York State and the 30th from North and South Carolina and Tennessee, formed the American II Corps. They took part in some of the bloodiest battles of the war. The 27th Division’s 107th Regiment from New York’s wealthy Upper East Side broke through the vaunted Hindenburg Line and in doing so lost more men on a single day of fighting than any regiment in United States history. I write about that regiment in my book, Duty, Honor, Privilege. Yockelson’s book covers it all for those Yankee troops fighting alongside the Brits.

Borrowed Soldiers, Volume 17: Americans Under British Command, 1918

By Mitchell A. Yockelson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Borrowed Soldiers, Volume 17 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The combined British Expeditionary Force and American II Corps successfully pierced the Hindenburg Line during the Hundred Days Campaign of World War I, an offensive that hastened the war's end. Yet despite the importance of this effort, the training and operation of II Corps has received scant attention from historians.

Mitchell A. Yockelson delivers a comprehensive study of the first time American and British soldiers fought together as a coalition force - more than twenty years before D-Day. He follows the two divisions that constituted II Corps, the 27th and 30th, from the training camps of South Carolina to the…


The Guns of August

By Barbara W. Tuchman,

Book cover of The Guns of August

Why this book?

Tuchman’s book came out in 1962, but I didn’t get around to reading it until the 1970s. Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. Along with Thomas Fleming, she drove my interest in World War I. I was especially interested in the opening days of the war, and she handles it masterfully and in great detail, covering the first month of the war. I can still envision her description of the German army invading Belgium. This book is a must-read for those wanting to learn about how the war started and what transpired during those turbulent days in August, 1914.

The Guns of August

By Barbara W. Tuchman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Guns of August as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • “A brilliant piece of military history which proves up to the hilt the force of Winston Churchill’s statement that the first month of World War I was ‘a drama never surpassed.’”—Newsweek
 
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time

In this landmark account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII, Tuchman traces each step…


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Interested in World War 1, World War 2, and France?

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