cover image THE MYTH OF THE GREAT WAR: A New Military History of World War I

THE MYTH OF THE GREAT WAR: A New Military History of World War I

John Mosier, Group International Literary, THE MYTH OF THE GREAT WAR: A New Military History of World . , $30 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-06-019676-9

In reading and analyzing the great body of tactical and operational literature published by French soldiers and academicians in the interwar period, Loyola English professor and film critic Mosier, who is fluent in French, brings to light a perspective generally neglected by historians who prefer to tell the war's story from a German or British view. For most of WWI, Mosier reminds us, it was the French who held most of the front—and did most of the dying. In contrast to the German army's systematic success at technical and tactical innovation, Mosier finds that French and British generals "solved" battlefield problems by throwing shells and bodies at them, then concealing the gruesome results from their governments and their people. Allied victory, he argues, depended on an American Expeditionary Force whose commander, Gen. John J. Pershing, saw through the pretensions of his counterparts in command, and insisted on fighting the war in his own way. While Mosier's argument is eloquently presented, scholars of the period will find it consistently spoiled by overstatement; the German army of WWI as described by most historians is nothing like the tempered and perfected instrument described in these pages, and Mosier's notion of Verdun as a German victory was not likely to be found in the ranks or the headquarters of the divisions who fought there. Still, this is the best narrative account in English of the Franco-German combat in central and in southern France from the aftermath of the Marne in 1914 to the end of Verdun in 1916. Buffs and scholars will take note, but the detailed maps, charts and technical focus will put off generalists. (May 3)