Patton: A Biography , etc.) examines the evolution of the Marine Corps in this sprightly popular history of the pivotal WWI Battle of"/>

Miracle at Belleau Wood: The Birth of the Modern U.S. Marine Corps

Alan Axelrod, Author . Globe Pequot/Lyons $24.95 (252p) ISBN 978-1-59921-025-4

Prolific bestseller Axelrod (Patton: A Biography , etc.) examines the evolution of the Marine Corps in this sprightly popular history of the pivotal WWI Battle of Belleau Wood in France. The Marine Corps, founded in the American Revolution, entered the 20th century on the verge of extinction. Saved by a congressional intervention that repealed Theodore Roosevelt's 1908 executive order withdrawing Marines from warships, the Marine brass looked to WWI as a chance to build up their ranks. The War Department sent two Marine brigades to France, but the U.S. commander, Gen. John Pershing, was reluctant to use them—relenting only when a German offensive threatened Paris. Belleau Wood, formerly "an idyllic patch of forest" used as a hunting preserve for the wealthy, was occupied by the Germans and transformed into "a natural fortress" bristling with machine-gun emplacements. In a savage, month-long fight, the 4th Marine Brigade pushed the entrenched Germans out of Belleau Wood, earning a new nickname from the enemy (Devil Dogs), forging a reputation as "America's fiercest warriors" and securing the future of the corps. Based exclusively on published material, Axelrod's brisk if conventional narrative provides a solid introduction to a crucial battle for fans of military history. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/02/2007
Release date: 06/01/2007
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