Books That Inspire 2008

Borrowed Soldiers: Americans under British Command, 1918
Mitchell A. Yockelson

"I feel pretty happy about the prospects as a whole, for even if the Americans are inexperienced, they are keen as mustard and splendid men." General Sir Henry Rawlinson, Commander, British 4th Army. Yockelson recalls the story of two American National Guard divisions in the brutal fighting of the last weeks of the Great War. The Americans—ill-trained, inexperienced, but eager—were teamed with the Australian Corps—battle-hardened but weary shock troops. Under the tutelage and direction of the diggers, the doughboys breached the Hindenburg Line and pushed the Germans across the Selle. Their actions helped bring about the Armistice and forged an enduring alliance with the Australians, but at a tragic price: 2,379 killed and 14,070 wounded in six weeks of fighting. Borrowed Soldiers took me to the dawn of the modern American Army. It reaffirmed to me that coalition warfare—however difficult to manage—must always be an essential element of American policy. The story also placed the 4,000-plus American dead over five years in Iraq in historical perspective. Having walked the now-peaceful fields where so many fought and died, I am reminded that although time does heal wounds, scars remain. The 1,844 white crosses and 333 commemorated missing in Somme American Cemetery testify to the latter.

John T Snow
Professor of Meteorology
Dean, College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences