The bestselling author of ROOSEVELT'S SECRET WAR traces the last day of World War I, weaving together the experiences of the famous, such as President Wilson, General Pershing, and Douglas MacArthur and the unsung and unremembered. With peace talks underway, the beaten Germans proposed an interim cease-fire to spare lives, but the French Allied ...
The bestselling author of ROOSEVELT'S SECRET WAR traces the last day of World War I, weaving together the experiences of the famous, such as President Wilson, General Pershing, and Douglas MacArthur and the unsung and unremembered. With peace talks underway, the beaten Germans proposed an interim cease-fire to spare lives, but the French Allied commander, General Ferdinand Foch, refused. Hostilities would not cease, Foch insisted, before the appointed hour of the Armistice. Thus, even on the last day, the Allies were still launching full scale offenses and both sides bombarded each other until the final minute of the agreed upon cease fire, 11 a.m., November 11, 1918. The last hours pulsated with unbearable tension as men in trenches, airmen in the sky and sailors at sea hoped to escape the distinction of being the last to die in the War.
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"11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour" by Joseph Persico is an interesting and captivating book covering not only the final moments of the Great War but also offering a general history of the war from its beginning in 1914. The author follows a number of characters, great and small, throughout the narrative. We follow the paths and final fate of a number of soldiers from America, Britain, France, and Germany. We also get glimpses of those who control their destiny, Foch, Haig, Hindenburg and Pershing.
The story is well told and you'll find yourself following the lives of these men and women intensely, mostly with the knowledge of what is to come but still drawn into the final agonising moments before the end. The book can jump about a little, from 1914 to 1918, as mentioned by previous reviewers, however I did not find that this detracted from the story and felt it worked well enough.
The book has received a few negative reviews in my country (Australia), mainly for the fact that the author tends to miss the other allies (Australia & New Zealand) who were fighting along side the Americans. The Australian Imperial Force (AIF) served from 1915 to 1918 on the Western Front and as a whole suffered a casualty rate of 65%, the highest of any Allied army in WW1. However I can see that this book has been written mainly for an American audience and I think it has done well.
The author's intent, to show the terribly tragedy of that final day, the waste of soldiers lives by Generals in an attempt to comply with criminal inept and stupid orders from higher up comes through strongly. Regardless of which nation those soldiers served, it's a well-told story and one that needed to be told.
I have read a quite a number of books on the Great War but this is one of the first to bring home the futility of some of the actions carried out by supposedly intelligent leaders & commanders. I hope that we never forget the sacrifice made by all the combatants, willing or not, in this most terrible War.
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