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The First Dreadnought Engagement, January 1915
On January 24, 1915, a German naval force commanded by Admiral Franz von Hipper conducted a raid on British fishing fleets in the area of the Dogger Banks. The force was engaged by a British force, which had been alerted by a decoded radio intercept. The ensuing battle would prove to be the largest and longest surface engagement until the Battle of Jutland the following summer. While the Germans lost an armored cruiser with heavy loss of life and Hipper's flagship was almost sunk, confusion in executing orders allowed the Germans to escape. The British considered the battle a victory; but the Germans had learned important lessons and they would be better prepared for the next encounter with the British fleet at Jutand. Tobias Philbin's Battle of Dogger Bank provides a keen analytical description of the battle and its place in the naval history of World War I., reviewing a previous edition or volume
Controlling the Gateway to the Adriatic in World War I
Called by some a "Mediterranean Jutland," the Battle of the Otranto Straits involved warships from Austria, Germany, Italy, Britain, and France. Although fought by light units with no dreadnoughts involved, Otranto was a battle in three dimensions -- engaging surface vessels, aircraft, and subsurface weapons (both submarines and mines). An attempt to halt the movement of submarines into the Adriatic using British drifters armed with nets and mines led to a raid by Austrian light cruisers. The Austrians inflicted heavy damage on the drifters, but Allied naval forces based at Brindisi cut off their withdrawal. The daylight hours saw a running battle, with the Austrians at considerable risk. Heavier Austrian units put out from Cattaro in support, and at the climactic moment the Allied light forces had to turn away, permitting the Austrians to escape. In the end, the Austrians had inflicted more damage than they suffered themselves. The Otranto action shows the difficulties of waging coalition warfare in which diplomatic and national jealousies override military efficiency.
The Case of the French Fifth Infantry Division during World War I
Literary and historical conventions have long painted the experience of soldiers during World War I as simple victimization. Leonard Smith, however, argues that a complex dialogue of resistance and negotiation existed between French soldiers and their own commanders. In this case study of wartime military culture, Smith analyzes the experience of the French Fifth Infantry Division in both pitched battle and trench warfare. The division established a distinguished fighting record from 1914 to 1916, yet proved in 1917 the most mutinous division in the entire French army, only to regain its elite reputation in 1918. Drawing on sources from ordinary soldiers to well-known commanders such as General Charles Mangin, the author explains how the mutinies of 1917 became an explicit manifestation of an implicit struggle that took place within the French army over the whole course of the war.
Smith pays particular attention to the pivotal role of noncommissioned and junior officers, who both exercised command authority and shared the physical perils of men in the lower ranks. He shows that "soldiers," broadly defined, learned to determine rules of how they would and would not fight the war, and imposed these rules on the command structure itself. By altering the parameters of command authority in accordance with their own perceived interests, soldiers and commanders negotiated a behavioral space between mutiny and obedience.
Originally published in 1994.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
How Veteran Politics Shaped the New Deal Era
The period between World Wars I and II was a time of turbulent political change, with suffragists, labor radicals, demagogues, and other voices clamoring to be heard. One group of activists that has yet to be closely examined by historians is World War I veterans. Mining the papers of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion (AL), Stephen R. Ortiz reveals that veterans actively organized in the years following the war to claim state benefits (such as pensions and bonuses), and strove to articulate a role for themselves as a distinct political bloc during the New Deal era.
Beyond the Bonus March and GI Bill is unique in its treatment of World War I veterans as significant political actors during the interwar period. Ortiz's study reinterprets the political origins of the "Second" New Deal and Roosevelt's electoral triumph of 1936, adding depth not only to our understanding of these events and the political climate surrounding them, but to common perceptions of veterans and their organizations. In describing veteran politics and the competitive dynamics between the AL and the VFW, Ortiz details the rise of organized veterans as a powerful interest group in modern American politics.
In the summer of 1915, the Central Powers launched an offensive on the Eastern Front that they hoped would decide the war. It did not, of course. In June 1916, an Allied army under the command of Aleksei A. Brusilov decimated the Central Powers' gains of 1915. Brusilov's success brought Romania into the war, extinguished the offensive ability of the Habsburg armies, and forced Austria-Hungary into military dependence on and political subservience to Germany. The results were astonishing in military terms, but the political consequences were perhaps even more significant. More than any other action, the Brusilov Offensive brought the Habsburg Empire to the brink of a separate peace, while creating conditions for revolution within the Russian Imperial Army. Timothy C. Dowling tells the story of this important but little-known battle in the military and political history of the Eastern Front.
Contemporary Canadian Literary Responses to World War I
Catching the Torch examines contemporary novels and plays written about Canada’s participation in World War I. Exploring such works as Jane Urquhart’s The Underpainter and The Stone Carvers, Jack Hodgins’s Broken Ground, Kevin Kerr’s Unity (1918), Stephen Massicotte’s Mary’s Wedding, and Frances Itani’s Deafening, the book considers how writers have dealt with the compelling myth that the Canadian nation was born in the trenches of the Great War.
In contrast to British and European remembrances of WWI, which tend to regard it as a cataclysmic destroyer of innocence, or Australian myths that promote an ideal of outsize masculinity, physical bravery, and white superiority, contemporary Canadian texts conjure up notions of distinctively Canadian values: tolerance of ethnic difference, the ability to do one’s duty without complaint or arrogance, and the inclination to show moral as well as physical courage. Paradoxically, Canadians are shown to decry the horrors of war while making use of its productive cultural effects.
Through a close analysis of the way sacrifice, service, and the commemoration of war are represented in these literary works, Catching the Torch argues that iterations of a secure mythic notion of national identity, one that is articulated via the representation of straightforward civic and military participation, work to counter current anxieties about the stability of the nation-state, in particular anxieties about the failure of the ideal of a national “character.”
Myth, Memory, and the First World War
In late December 1914, German and British soldiers on the western front initiated a series of impromptu, unofficial ceasefires. Enlisted men across No Man's Land abandoned their trenches and crossed enemy lines to sing carols, share food and cigarettes, and even play a little soccer. Collectively known as the Christmas Truce, these fleeting moments of peace occupy a mythical place in remembrances of World War I. Yet new accounts suggest that the heartwarming tale ingrained in the popular imagination bears little resemblance to the truth.
In this detailed study, Terri Blom Crocker provides the first comprehensive analysis of both scholarly and popular portrayals of the Christmas Truce from 1914 to present. From books by influential historians to the Oscar-nominated French film Joyeux Noel (2006), this new examination shows how a variety of works have both explored and enshrined this outbreak of peace amid overwhelming violence. The vast majority of these accounts depict the soldiers as acting in defiance of their superiors. Crocker, however, analyzes official accounts as well as private letters that reveal widespread support among officers for the détentes. Furthermore, she finds that truce participants describe the temporary ceasefires not as rebellions by disaffected troops but as acts of humanity and survival by professional soldiers deeply committed to their respective causes.
The Christmas Truce studies these ceasefires within the wider war, demonstrating how generations of scholars have promoted interpretations that ignored the nuanced perspectives of the many soldiers who fought. Crocker's groundbreaking, meticulously researched work challenges conventional analyses and sheds new light on the history and popular mythology of the War to End All Wars.
The Plattsburg Training Camp Movement, 1913-1920
The Citizen Soldiers explores the military reform movement that took its name from the famous Business Men's Military Training Camps at Plattsburg, New York. It also illuminates the story of two exceptional men: General Leonard Wood, the rambunctious and controversial former Rough Rider who galvanized the Plattsburg Idea with his magnetic personality; and Grenville Clark, a young Wall Street lawyer.
The Plattsburg camps strove to advertise the lack of military preparation in the United States and stressed the military obligation every man owed to his country. Publicized by individuals who voluntarily underwent military training, the preparedness movement rapidly took shape in the years prior to America's entry into the First World War. Far from being war hawks, the Plattsburg men emphasized the need for a "citizen army" rather than a large professional establishment. Although they failed in their major objective -- universal military training -- their vision of a citizen army was largely realized in the National Defense Act of 1920, and their efforts helped to establish selective service as the United States' preferred recruitment method in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Featuring a new preface by the author, this new edition of a seminal study will hit shelves just in time for the World War I Centennial.
“A powerful and important book that turns our attention to the often understudied experiences of civilians at war. Civilians in a World at War, 1914-1918, makes a major contribution not only to the history of World War I but to the history of civilians involved in war before and since.”