WITH THEIR BARE HANDS                         GENE FAX

With Their Bare Hands traces the fate of the US 79th Division-men drafted off the streets of Baltimore, Washington, and Philadelphia-from boot camp in Maryland through the final years of World War I, focusing on their most famous engagement: the attack on Montfaucon, the most heavily fortified part of the German Line, during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918. 
Using the 79th as a window onto the American Army as a whole, Gene Fax examines its mistakes and triumphs, the tactics of its commander General John J. Pershing, and how the lessons it learned during the Great War helped it to fight World War II. Fax makes some startling judgments, on the role of future Army Chief-of-Staff, Colonel George C. Marshall; whether the Montfaucon battle-had it followed the plan-could have shortened the war; and if Pershing was justified in ordering his troops to attack right up to the moment of the Armistice. 
Drawing upon original documents, including orders, field messages, and the letters and memoirs of the soldiers themselves, some of which have never been used before, Fax tells the engrossing story of the 79th Division's bloody involvement in the final months of World War I.


This is a very griping book about the Meuse- Argonne campaign during the First World War. The author takes you from the beginning of the 79th and through their training and then to their arrival at the front. The author takes you through the difficulties that were experienced by this unit in losing so many men to other units and replaced by men that were not trained properly. This lack of fore thought by the higher were just one of many that would follow this unit. Another would be the artillery unit they trained with was changed to an entirely different unit once they got to the front. The author leads you through to the attack that they were to lead on a place named Montfaucon or little Gibraltar. This part of the story is sad to read because of the amount of lives that are lost, not just from this unit but by other AEF as well. You are shown the bravery by the men leaving the trenches and having to cover open ground to take the Germans who have been dunged in for four years with machines guns, and artillery. The Germans are also at an elevated position with aerial support and artillery, something the Americans did not have. This would add to the casualties for the Americans and the days it would take to capture Montfaucon. The men would do this without machine-gun fire, or artillery support, and also without food and water for days. This was the part of the story that makes me always upset when I have read WWI or any war books in how the leaders can order their men to attack and days later when they are still fighting not working on getting food and water to them. Especially when you have some generals from the civil war who always made sure they had supply lines in place. These men were running out of ammo, with no help in site yet they continued to fight. Yes by capturing this mountain would hasten the end of the war, these problems of how to attack a stronger opponent would be done differently when WWII would begin. Overall this was a very good in book in honoring the men who fought in WWI. A good book. I got this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com 

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