Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality

Richard Slotkin, Author . Holt $35 (639p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4124-8

Slotkin (a National Book Award finalist for Gunfighter Nation) examines the relationship between war and citizenship in this trenchant, gracefully written military and social history of the African-American 369th Infantry, known as the "Harlem Hellfighters," and the 77th Division, dubbed the "Melting Pot" for its ranks of Italians, Jews and other eastern Europeans. At the time of America's entrance into WWI, blacks and immigrants were deemed racially inferior—less than full members of the commonwealth. But total war necessitated national mobilization of these excluded minorities, so the government advanced an unwritten (and uncertain) bargain: acceptance and equality in return for loyal service. In an outstanding synthesis of operational analysis and unit dynamics, Slotkin shows the dilemmas of the elite, Anglo-Saxon officers leading the 77th and the 369th, and that the soldiers' performance in battle paid in full the blood price of their bargain. At an extraordinarily high cost, the 369th Infantry captured the French town of Sechault from the Germans, and the 77th Division fought in the Argonne, an ordeal that earned it the name the Lost Battalion. Slotkin smoothly telescopes from the trenches to the political and social implications for decades to come in this insightful, valuable account. Agent, Carl Brandt. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/03/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 639 pages - 978-0-8050-8138-1
Open Ebook - 656 pages - 978-1-4668-6093-3
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