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History > Military History > World War I

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No Insignificant Part Cover

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No Insignificant Part

The Rhodesia Native Regiment and the East Africa Campaign of the First World War

No Insignificant Part: The Rhodesia Native Regiment and the East Africa Campaign of the First World War is the first history of the only primarily African military unit from Zimbabwe to fight in the First World War. Recruited from the migrant labour network, most African soldiers in the RNR were originally miners or farm workers from what are now Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and Malawi. Like others across the world, they joined the army for a variety of reason, chief among them a desire to escape low pay and horrible working conditions.

The RNR participated in some of the key engagements of the German East Africa campaign’s later phase, subsisting on extremely meager rations and suffering from tropical diseases and exhaustion. Because they were commanded by a small group of European officers, most of whom were seconded from the Native Affairs Department and the British South Africa Police, the regiment was dominated by racism. It was not unusual for black soldiers, but never white ones, to be publicly flogged for alleged theft or insubordination. Although it remained in the field longer than all-white units and some of its members received some of Britain’s highest decorations, the Rhodesia Native Regiment was quickly disbanded after the war and conveniently forgotten by the colonial establishment. Southern Rhodesias white settler minority, partly on the strength of its wartime sacrifice, was given political control of the territory through a racially exclusive form of self-government, but black RNR veterans received little support or recognition.

No Insignificant Part takes a new look at an old campaign and will appeal to scholars of African or military history interested in the First World War.

Nothing Less Than War Cover

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Nothing Less Than War

A New History of America’s Entry into World War I

Justus Doenecke

When war broke out in Europe in 1914, political leaders in the United States were swayed by popular opinion to remain neutral; yet less than three years later, the nation declared war on Germany. In Nothing Less Than War: A New History of America’s Entry into World War I, Justus D. Doenecke examines the clash of opinions over the war during this transformative period and offers a fresh perspective on America’s decision to enter World War I. Doenecke reappraises the public and private diplomacy of President Woodrow Wilson and his closest advisors and explores in great depth the response of Congress to the war. He also investigates the debates that raged in the popular media and among citizen groups that sprang up across the country as the U.S. economy was threatened by European blockades and as Americans died on ships sunk by German U-boats. The decision to engage in battle ultimately belonged to Wilson, but as Doenecke demonstrates, Wilson’s choice was not made in isolation. Nothing Less Than War provides a comprehensive examination of America’s internal political climate and its changing international role during the seminal period of 1914–1917.

Operation Albion Cover

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Operation Albion

The German Conquest of the Baltic Islands

Michael B. Barrett

In October 1917, an invasion force of some 25,000 German soldiers, accompanied by a flotilla of 10 dreadnoughts, 350 other vessels, a half-dozen zeppelins, and 80 aircraft, attacked the Baltic islands of Dago, Osel, and Moon at the head of the Gulf of Riga. It proved to be the most successful amphibious operation of World War I. The three islands fell, the Gulf was opened to German warships and was now a threat to Russian naval bases in the Gulf of Finland, and 20,000 Russians were captured. The invasion proved to be the last major operation in the East. Although the invasion had achieved its objectives and placed the Germans in an excellent position for the resumption of warfare in the spring, within three weeks of the operation, the Bolsheviks took power in Russia (November 7, 1917) and Albion faded into obscurity as the war in the East came to a slow end.

Picture This Cover

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Picture This

World War I Posters and Visual Culture

Pearl James

The First World War was waged through the participation not just of soldiers but of men, women, and children on the home front. Mass-produced, full-color, large-format war posters were both a sign and an instrument of this historic shift in warfare. War posters celebrated, in both their form and content, the modernity of the conflict. They also reached an enormous international audience through their prominent display and continual reproduction in pamphlets and magazines in every combatant nation, uniting diverse populations as viewers of the same image and bringing them closer, in an imaginary and powerful way, to the war.
 
Most war posters were aimed particularly at civilian populations. Posters nationalized, mobilized, and modernized those populations, thereby influencing how they viewed themselves and their activities. The home-front life—factory work, agricultural work, domestic work, the consumption and conservation of goods, as well as various forms of leisure—became, through the viewing of posters, emblematic of national identity and of each citizen’s place within the collective effort to win the war.
 
Essays by Jay Winter, Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Jennifer D. Keene, and others reveal the centrality of visual media, particularly the poster, within the specific national contexts of Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States during World War I. Ultimately, posters were not merely representations of popular understanding of the war, but instruments influencing the reach, meaning, and memory of the war in subtle and pervasive ways.

Prelude to Blitzkrieg Cover

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Prelude to Blitzkrieg

The 1916 Austro-German Campaign in Romania

Michael B. Barrett

In contrast to the trench-war deadlock on the Western Front, combat in Romania and Transylvania in 1916 foreshadowed the lightning warfare of WWII. When Romania joined the Allies and invaded Transylvania without warning, the Germans responded by unleashing a campaign of bold, rapid infantry movements, with cavalry providing cover or pursuing the crushed foe. Hitting where least expected and advancing before the Romanians could react—even bombing their capital from a Zeppelin soon after war was declared—the Germans and Austrians poured over the formidable Transylvanian Alps onto the plains of Walachia, rolling up the Romanian army from west to east, and driving the shattered remnants into Russia. Prelude to Blitzkrieg tells the story of this largely ignored campaign to determine why it did not devolve into the mud and misery of trench warfare, so ubiquitous elsewhere.

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Private Politics and Public Voices

Black Women's Activism from World War I to the New Deal

Nikki Brown

This political history of middle-class African American women during World War I focuses on their patriotic activity and social work. Nearly 200,000 African American men joined the Allied forces in France. At home, black clubwomen raised more than $125 million in wartime donations and assembled "comfort kits" for black soldiers, with chocolate, cigarettes, socks, a bible, and writing materials. Given the hostile racial climate of the day, why did black women make considerable financial contributions to the American and Allied war effort? Brown argues that black women approached the war from the nexus of the private sphere of home and family and the public sphere of community and labor activism. Their activism supported their communities and was fueled by a personal attachment to black soldiers and black families. Private Politics and Public Voices follows their lives after the war, when they carried their debates about race relations into public political activism.

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Race, War, and Surveillance

African Americans and the United States Government during World War I

Mark Ellis

In April 1917, black Americans reacted in various ways to the entry of the United States into World War I in the name of "Democracy." Some expressed loud support, many were indifferent, and others voiced outright opposition. All were agreed, however, that the best place to start guaranteeing freedom was at home.

Almost immediately, rumors spread across the nation that German agents were engaged in "Negro Subversion" and that African Americans were potentially disloyal. Despite mounting a constant watch on black civilians, their newspapers, and their organizations, the domestic intelligence agents of the federal government failed to detect any black traitors or saboteurs. They did, however, find vigorous demands for equal rights to be granted and for the 30-year epidemic of lynching in the South to be eradicated. In Race, War, and Surveillance, Mark Ellis examines the interaction between the deep-seated fears of many white Americans about a possible race war and their profound ignorance about the black population. The result was a "black scare" that lasted well beyond the war years.

Mark Ellis is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland.

June 2001
256 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4, index, append.
cloth 0-253-33923-5 $39.95 s /

Rehearsals Cover

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Rehearsals

The German Army in Belgium, August 1914

Jeff Lipkes

Rehearsals is the first book to provide a detailed narrative history of the German invasion of Belgium in August 1914 as it affected civilians. Based on extensive eyewitness testimony, the book chronicles events in and around the towns of Liège, Aarschot, Andenne, Tamines, Dinant, and Leuven, where the worst of the German depredations occurred. Without any legitimate pretext, German soldiers killed nearly 6,000 non-combatants, including women and children, and burned some 25,000 homes and other buildings. For more the seventy-five years, however, charges against the German Army about the killing, raping, looting, and arson have been dismissed in Germany, the U.K., and U.S. as mere atrocity propaganda. Recently, the case has been made that the violence, which cresendoed between august 19th and 26th , was the result of an spontaneous outbreak of German paranoia about francs-tireurs (civilian sharpshooters). Rehearsals provides much evidence that the executions were in fact part of a deliberate campaign of terrorism ordered by military authorisaties.

Revered Commander, Maligned General Cover

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Revered Commander, Maligned General

The Life of Clarence Ransom Edwards, 1859-1931

Michael E. Shay

 

Major General Clarence Ransom Edwards is a vital figure in American military history, yet his contribution to the U.S. efforts in World War I has often been ignored or presented in unflattering terms. Most accounts focus on the disagreements he had with General John J. Pershing, who dismissed Edwards from the command of the 26th (“Yankee”) Division just weeks before the war's end. The notoriety of the Pershing incident has caused some to view Edwards as simply a “political general” with a controversial career. But Clarence Edwards, though often a divisive figure, was a greater man than that. A revered and admired officer whose men called him “Daddy,” Edwards attained an impressive forty-year career, one matched by few wartime leaders.

 

            Michael E. Shay presents a complete portrait of this notable American and his many merits in Revered Commander, Maligned General. This long-overdue first full-length biography of General Clarence Edwards opens with his early years in Cleveland, Ohio and his turbulent times at West Point. The book details the crucial roles Edwards filled in staff and field commands for the Army before the outbreak of World War I in 1917: Adjutant-General with General Henry Ware Lawton in the Philippine-American War, first chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, and commander of U.S. forces in the Panama Canal Zone. Revered Commander, Maligned General follows Edwards as he forms the famous Yankee Division and leads his men into France. The conflict between Edwards and Pershing is placed in context, illuminating the disputes that led to Edwards being relieved of command.

 

            This well-researched biography quotes a wealth of primary sources in recounting the life of an important American, a man of loyalty and service who is largely misunderstood. Photographs of Edwards, his troops, and his kin—many from Edwards’ own collection—complement the narrative.  In addition, several maps aid readers in following General Edwards as his career moves from the U.S. to Central America to Europe and back stateside. Shay’s portrayalof General Edwards finally provides a balanced account of this unique U.S. military leader.

 

The Schlieffen Plan Cover

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The Schlieffen Plan

International Perspectives on the German Strategy for World War I

edited by Hans Ehlert, Michael Epkenhans, and Gerhard P. Gross. English translation edited by David T. Zabecki, USA (Ret.)

With the creation of the Franco-Russian Alliance and the failure of the Reinsurance Treaty in the late nineteenth century, Germany needed a strategy for fighting a two-front war. In response, Field Marshal Count Alfred von Schlieffen produced a study that represented the apex of modern military planning. His Memorandum for a War against France, which incorporated a mechanized cavalry as well as new technologies in weaponry, advocated that Germany concentrate its field army to the west and annihilate the French army within a few weeks. For generations, historians have considered Schlieffen's writings to be the foundation of Germany's military strategy in World War I and have hotly debated the reasons why the plan, as executed, failed.

In this important volume, international scholars reassess Schlieffen's work for the first time in decades, offering new insights into the renowned general's impact not only on World War I but also on nearly a century of military historiography. The contributors draw on newly available source materials from European and Russian archives to demonstrate both the significance of the Schlieffen Plan and its deficiencies. They examine the operational planning of relevant European states and provide a broad, comparative historical context that other studies lack. Featuring fold-out maps and abstracts of the original German deployment plans as they evolved from 1893 to 1914, this rigorous reassessment vividly illustrates how failures in statecraft as well as military planning led to the tragedy of the First World War.

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