Reviews for A Delicate Affair on the Western Front

 

"Reading this book, one gets a feeling for the horrible conditions in the trenches and trench warfare (what the other combatants referred to as "positional war"), whose only rival is the account in Erich Maria Remarque's classic All Quiet on the Western Front.  

— Mitchel Giten

"Once again Colonel Finnegan has produced a magnificent work of military history, every bit in the same league as his fine Shooting the Front.

— CAPT Steven Maffeo, USN 

Select Customer Reviews from Amazon.com

5.0 out of 5 stars

 

It is better than history, it is literature.

Lt. Col. USAF Ret 

The current emphasis on learning about World War in this centenary time is clearly understood - but sadly, the vast amounts of writing touch the surface on what could be perceived as relevant to a reader on what really happened at a time that clearly shaped the remainder of the 20th century. I find “A Delicate Affair” to be more than a history book - it transcends into literature covering a forgotten military operation that was full of human drama and pathos. The difference in this in-depth writing is the detail. The author covers more insight into what war of this time meant both in military capability and the experience of combat. If you think you know all about military history or history in general, then this book will challenge you to better understand what combat means because it covers every possible angle, to include what the enemy was thinking at the exact moment they were fighting a “soldier’s battle." “A Delicate Affair” is “literature” at its best.

Reading this book, one gets a feeling for the horrible conditions in the trenches and trench warfare (what the other combatants referred to as "positional war"), whose only rival is the account in Erich Maria Remarque's classic "All Quiet on the Western Front".

 

Mitchell M. Giti

Colonel Finnegan has written a superb book about the initial blooding of the American Army in the First World War. Based upon exceptional research, in an an extremely balanced manner, the author explores in great detail its experiences in the first sector of occupied France to be assigned to the American Army at a time when it had a huge way to go to assimilate itself to the conditions of perhaps the first truly modern war, featuring heavy artillery usage, extensive deployment of machine guns and use of poison gas and appalling physical conditions. The book is unique in accessing German sources as well as Allied ones. , the author explores the role of aviation and some of the dire intelligence issues the American Army faced, such as the German infiltration of American lines with English-speaking German soldiers (similar to what Otto Skorzeny did during the Battle of the Bulge). The experience gained and lessons learned helped enable the American Army to finally liberate Western Europe in World War II.
The detailed information provided about the American commanders is enthralling.

A Definitive Work on the National Guard

 

Colonel Stanley E. Toy

Colonel Terry Finnegan has written a definitive work on the accomplishments of the US National Guard and the Regular Army in the first battlegrounds fought in World War I. "A Delicate Affair on the Western Front" captures in great detail the operational and strategic challenges facing our American Military Commanders in WWI. In some ways this book serves as both an acute account of historical facts of the Western Front that offer an understanding of Military Decision Making of the time - but more importantly Colonel Finnegan's book "A Delicate Affair on the Western Front" is an excellent discussion on the precursors of coalition warfare from a Combined Arms sense. Though trench warfare is a long-gone unrealistic approach to fighting a modern war - This book serves to offer one lens from which to view how Commanders struggled with the idea of resource management on a vastly challenging Western Front that consumed both man and machine in enormous numbers. Our current exploits in the Middle East have shown that we can realistically fight effectively at the Battalion Level and that reliance on air power, near real-time logistics, and technology integration are key force-multipliers to a now expeditionary mindset that was shaped and influenced by the lessons learned on the Western Front described in "A Delicate Affair."

Superb military history, superbly done

 

Dr. Maturin 

Once again Colonel Finnegan has produced a magnificent work of military history, every bit in the same league as his fine "Shooting the Front." Firstly, he and his publisher earn top credit with an extraordinarily high-quality book: striking dust jacket, unusually fine paper, remarkable color and b&w plates, etc. I'm surprised that such a physically elegant book, with all its beautiful illustrations, is being offered so inexpensively. Moreover, Finnegan tells an important story with great organization, clarity, and flow. To be sure, the topic is not for everyone; but, if the reader is interested in gaining an understanding of how the United States learned to deal with "la grande guerre" in the modern era--and learned it the hard way--then he or she needs this book.

 

I highly recommend it as a great work of scholarship




We are soon approaching the centennial of the organization of the 26th Yankee Division. The 26th was organized on 22 August 1917 with division headquarters at 25 Huntington Avenue, Boston. MG Clarence R. Edwards began deploying the first elements of the YD to France on 6 September when the 101st Infantry Regiment left Camp Framingham for the Hoboken, New Jersey port of embarkation. The 101st sailed the next day.

The YD closed in France on 8 November 1917 making it the first full US Army division to arrive in France. This was quite a record for a National Guard division in existence for barely two months.

The YD entered a quiet section of trenches on 4 February 1918. On 3 April it occupied positions near Chemin des Dames in the Woevre region. The 104th Infantry Regiment is blooded in battle at Bois Brule 10-13 April. The 102d Infantry Regiment’s turn came on 20 April at the village of Seicheprey.

COL Terrence J. Finnegan, US Air Force (Ret), a YDVA member, has written a masterful history of the YD at Seicheprey. The book is entitled A Delicate Affair on the Western Front: America Learns How to Fight a Modern War in the Woevre Trenches (Spellmont, Stroud, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, 2015). He has written the definitive history of one of the YD’s first battles and one of its most controversial.

GEN John J. Pershing called this action an “affair” after the French word for action. After the war when Pershing was writing his memoirs, then LTC George C. Marshall cautioned him to tone down the rhetoric concerning Seicheprey and referred to it as a “delicate affair” as not to upset YD veterans and New Englanders.

— BG Len Kondratiuk, National Historian

 

Colonel Terry Finnegan has documented everything in great detail and for those interested in the “lessons learned” ...

Colonel Christian C. Chatfield, USA Ret.


For those who are new to the politics, military strategies and tactics of American military participation in World War I, A Delicate Affair on the Western Front is a superlative beginning, middle and end. Colonel Terry Finnegan has documented everything in great detail and for those interested in the “lessons learned” by our American military during the War to End all Wars, Colonel Finnegan’s A Delicate Affair bears reading in detail; many parts, several times. This is not an historical novel that pretends to put you in a battle as or with a make-believe protagonist, sex scenes included. A Delicate Affair, in all its detail of ghastly stalemate and equally sickening maneuver of trench warfare, wherein 26,000 die or are wounded in one battle, will take your breath and imagination away. One doesn’t need to pretend; this is the real thing based on extensively footnoted research. A Delicate Affair is the US Army at the Western Front in 1918 with all its novice frailties and blemishes incurred from ally and enemy alike.  Plainly, an education of the highest quality. Five stars, nothing less.

—Kevin Ryan

"A Delicate Affair on the Western Front is an historical account of the challenges that faced the US Expeditionary forces as they entered the First World War developing into a full scale fighting force that was to become the basis for our current standing army. Colonel Terrence Finnegan's exhaustive analysis has brought this period to life in such an incredibly detailed manner that the reader cannot help but be swept up into the dramatic forces at play, the gritty reality of the trenches, the heroic personalities, and the day to day maneuvering required to outwit and outgun the German war machine. There were missteps and stumbles along the way but the tone was set by the man leading the way in charge of Pershing's Fighting First, the First Division leader Major General Robert Lee Bullard who stated that whatever failures there were rested squarely on his shoulders, a leader and military strategist of the highest order. Colonel Finnegan's insight and observations of the various forces at play and the personal stories lends this book an aura of realism so often missing from historical accounts. Highly recommended!

 

An Outstanding History of a Forgotten Battle

Retired USAF Col. Terrence J. Finnegan, who wrote the definitive history of WWI aerial photography, Shooting the Front (now in its second edition) has turned his considerable research talents to the wider war in ‘A Delicate Affair’ on the Western Front. The Battle of Seicheprey pitted American forces in their first real engagement on the Western Front in April 1918. Largely forgotten now and dwarfed in scale by battles U.S. forces fought in later that summer and autumn, culminating in the longest American battle ever, the Meuse Argonne offensive, Seicheprey provided many of those Doughboys their baptism of fire. Finnegan chronicles and analyzes the battle in his customary meticulous detail. Of course, compared to Shooting the Front, there’s not as much here for aviation historians, but Finnegan manages to do what many WWI historians neglect. He weaves the aviators’ stories into the larger history of the war in a way that properly positions aviation’s role in the fighting, appreciates their contributions, and highlights the vital part they played in the outcome of the battle. Hopefully, this will begin a general trend in that direction. Highly recommended.

—L Gintheron 


A DELICATE AFFAIR ON THE WESTERN FRONT: AMERICA LEARNS HOW TO FIGHT A MODERN WAR IN THE WOEVRE TRENCHES is a compelling and important book. Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Finnegan's research is both detailed and unsurpassed. He gives the reader an exciting account of the actions and great bravery, leadership, and sacrifice that the newly arrived and untested U.S. soldiers showed in their first encounter with the experienced German combat veterans. In light of the upcoming centennial of America's entry in World War I, this book is an excellent addition to the library of books on the war to end all wars. As a footnote, on Page 23 mentions the execution of French soldiers by a firing squad. This was the basis for Kirk Douglas's movie Paths Of Glory.

—James Streckfuss


Terry Finnegan has produced a scholarly work that is both elegant in its format and informative in its content. I have studied and written extensively about the Yankee Division, and I applaud his impeccable scholarship and will undoubtedly return to it as a valuable resource. It is a balanced account of the young men of a New England National Guard regiment learning their lessons the hard way and, in the process, giving as good as they got.

Michael E. Shayon

A decade-long research project with wonderful maps, photos and images

Full disclosure: Author Terry Finnegan is a fellow member of the World War One Historical Association. As the publisher of World War One Illustrated, the quarterly magazine of our non-profit organization, Terry asked for my feedback while he was still writing his book. I became an enthusiastic supporter of Terry’s decade-long book project as I feel it is an important contribution to World War One studies since it covers a wide range of topics beyond the primary focus of the fighting at Seicheprey in March and April of 1918.
The book’s title comes from a description of the battle of Seicheprey by George Marshall—in 1918 an aide of John “Black Jack” Pershing. The Woëvre region of France was where American divisions first went into the front line trenches.
Overshadowed by the German spring offensive in March, and the more famous American fighting at Belleau Wood and Château Thierry thereafter, Seicheprey was forgotten.
After an initial German raid at Seicheprey on 1 March, the Americans responded with two trench raids of their own. On 12 April another German raid hit the 26th “Yankee” Division that had replaced the 1st Division. Instead of inflicting a serious morale blow on the inexperienced Americans, one U.S. soldier felt that the attack’s “result was a complete boomerang, the American artillery showing not only great accuracy and speed in firing, but an unexpected ability to outguess the opposition.”
A much larger German attack including elite storm battalions hit the 26th on 20 April. Vicious fighting and a stubborn American defense marked the daylong engagement. About 200 Americans were captured.
This book is one of the most detailed accounts of how the German army planned and executed a 1918 attack. This was possible because German primary sources used were in the Bavarian Central State Archives in Munich and survived destruction in World War Two. For example, one of the nine aerial photographs in the book—taken by a Bavarian aviation unit—is a photo of the 20 April dawn attack at its height (page 212).
A Delicate Affair is lavishly illustrated with 32 maps (27 in color), and 116 photos, illustrations and other images. Sidebars include comparisons of opposing artillery and mortars, and stories such as “Stubby”—America’s most famous dog of the war. It includes the myths, legends, and legacy of Seicheprey and why it is worth remembering as a case study in how the American Army learned to fight a modern war.

—Dana Lombardy

Erudite, comprehensive, compelling; Hollywood should produce a Seicheprey movie

Why does the long-forgotten battle of Seicheprey matter almost 100 years on, and why does this particular book matter? Seicheprey was one of the first major battles for American forces in World War I. Inexperienced American soldiers—many of them fairly recent immigrants from places such as Ireland, England, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, France, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Poland, and even Germany — faced an overwhelming force of battle-hardened, elite German stormtroopers. With great courage, resolve, and tenacity, they held their ground, fighting to the death and dying in place for their French allies, while facing high-explosive artillery barrages, flamethrowers, machine guns, and poisonous gas. This diverse group of fresh immigrant soldiers and their grit had a strong, unnerving psychological impact on the Germans.

But there is more to the story: The exceptional valor of many individual soldiers, the birth of U.S. combat aviation, the prisoner of war experience (at a level of detail I have not seen in other books on World War I), and the role of the media in shaping public opinion—all elements of later wars in the 20th century were present at Seicheprey.

The story is told of the individual valor of Private Louis R. Ziegra, a second-generation German-American, who despite being shot at close range in the face, pummeled several German soldiers in hand-to-hand combat before finally being overpowered. He became a legend to his German captors for his bravery.

Combat provides the opportunity not only for physical courage, but also for moral courage—making decisions that fly in the face of orders and military policy. A Delicate Affair addresses moral courage in detail with the story of Major John Gallant, who moments before commencing a counterattack, canceled it. He did so because he recognized the novice soldiers that had been provided to him at the last minute had literally come off the boat just a few days before. In addition, his communications line to French commanders had been cut, so he had no idea where French troops were situated. Major Gallant’s decision to cancel the counterattack undoubtedly saved many lives that would have been lost to artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire as soldiers advanced over open ground in confusion and chaos without communications. Yet for his moral courage, Major Gallant was arrested, court-martialed, and sentenced to hard labor at Leavenworth Prison. Even though his sentence was commuted a few months later, he was kicked out of the army and his twenty-year military career was ruined.

A Delicate Affair is a rare work displaying the highest standard of erudition. It consists of original, exceptional, and exhaustive scholarship based exclusively on primary sources. In fact, it very possibly may be the most definitive discussion ever compiled of any battle of World War I. The author, a former intelligence professional, walks readers through—in fascinating detail—how intelligence was put together and made operational. This should be of great interest to professional historians, World War I enthusiasts, military leaders, and anyone interested in military history.

The most important feature of World War I battles was the ability to apply all known information to a single source: The map. A Delicate Affair brings that critical component of the war to the greatest level of awareness ever seen in military scholarship. The book contains numerous reproductions of the actual maps used by General officers and planning staff and showing the routes taken by the soldiers in combat. Many of these maps have been only recently discovered, so they never before have been seen or used in any research covering the war, which makes the book a treasure trove and more than worth its purchase price. Adding to the treasure trove is the inclusion of actual aerial photography acquired prior to and during the battle.

For the first time ever, readers can gain deep understanding of actual battle lines and see the very cartography that shaped the Generals’ decisions directing the battle. Some of the maps show the combat strength in a given trench and the first evidence of trench warfare in the sector. Furthermore, the maps are invaluable and integral to understanding the pathway from intelligence gathering and analysis to the development of strategy and tactics to battlefield operations.

By the way, the publisher should be commended for using full color reproduction to capture the full details of the maps. Adding modern maps would have been a distraction, inappropriate, and irrelevant to work of such superb scholarship.

The comprehensive detail in this book is made more manageable to readers through the thoughtful decision by the publisher and author to arrange text in two columns and to provide typographical distinctions for reader convenience in distinguishing and keeping straight the details of French, German, and American information. The organization of the two indexes also helps with this.

—JK
 

We are soon approaching the centennial of the organization of the 26th Yankee Division. The 26th was organized on 22 August 1917 with division headquarters at 25 Huntington Avenue, Boston. MG Clarence R. Edwards began deploying the first elements of the YD to France on 6 September when the 101st Infantry Regiment left Camp Framingham for the Hoboken, New Jersey port of embarkation. The 101st sailed the next day.

The YD closed in France on 8 November 1917 making it the first full US Army division to arrive in France. This was quite a record for a National Guard division in existence for barely two months.

The YD entered a quiet section of trenches on 4 February 1918. On 3 April it occupied positions near Chemin des Dames in the Woevre region. The 104th Infantry Regiment is blooded in battle at Bois Brule 10-13 April. The 102d Infantry Regiment’s turn came on 20 April at the village of Seicheprey.

COL Terrence J. Finnegan, US Air Force (Ret), a YDVA member, has written a masterful history of the YD at Seicheprey. The book is entitled A Delicate Affair on the Western Front: America Learns How to Fight a Modern War in the Woevre Trenches (Spellmont, Stroud, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, 2015). He has written the definitive history of one of the YD’s first battles and one of its most controversial.

GEN John J. Pershing called this action an “affair” after the French word for action. After the war when Pershing was writing his memoirs, then LTC George C. Marshall cautioned him to tone down the rhetoric concerning Seicheprey and referred to it as a “delicate affair” as not to upset YD veterans and New Englanders.

The early and unplanned arrival of the YD and MG Edwards’ character traits prickled the AEF general staff. The National Guard vs. Regular Army rift was in its infancy. The Regulars resented having to deal with what they saw as amateur militia officers. As we know, this finally culminated with Edwards’ relief in October 1918.

At 0300, 20 April, German artillery unleashed a heavy barrage on YD lines around Seicheprey. In the trenches in front of the village, MAJ George Rau and his 1st Battalion, 102d Infantry, Connecticut National Guard, held the line. In support were the former Massachusetts cavalrymen reorganized as Companies B and C, 102d Machine Gun Battalion.

The Germans had perfected their tactics for hard-hitting reinforced raids. Both the French and the British had previously experienced such raids. Now it was the American’s turn. Some 1,200 storm troops; specially trained assault troops led the attack. German artillery fire was especially effective in hitting 102d positions and destroying communications. For hours, hand to hand fighting took place in front of and in the village. The German’s overwhelming strength pushed back the outnumbered Connecticut Guardsmen.

Despite heavy casualties, 102d soldiers fought well until they were killed or captured. The fighting took place in pockets as American squads and platoons were attacked by German stormtroopers intent on capturing the village and breaking through French-U.S. lines. MAJ Rau and his battalion attempted to hold onto their positions. Once in the village, Germans faced cooks armed with cleavers and clerks and supply sergeants armed with pistols.

Around 0800, the Germans ended the fight and began pulling back. They renewed the attack at 1300 and scattered fighting continued for several hours as the 3d Battalion, 102d Infantry began moving to relieve the beleaguered 1st Battalion.

It was a hard fight both sides. The 102d incurred some 400 casualties. The Germans reported 361 casualties.

GEN Pershing and his staff saw the action as a black mark against the 26th Division and the US Army. According to the current US Army history, Pershing was infuriated by this humiliating setback that in the Allies mind questioned whether Americans could command and control divisions in combat. Edwards and the YD had “blotted their copybook,” as the English say and Pershing put Edwards’ name on his s____ list.

Pershing and his staff was wrong. Seicheprey proved to the Allies and the Germans that the American soldier was a tough fighting man. French and British generals marveled at the spirit, physical prowess and intelligence of American enlisted men.

Terry Finnegan tells the story of this action in a masterful way. He goes into detail how bravely YD soldiers fought against a determined and overwhelming enemy. Finnegan has mined all the sources in memoirs, articles and books about the action. He has also extensively researched German sources as well. We read about the battle from both sides. The author has also researched the papers, documents and books of the American generals and staff officers at various headquarters.

This book is extremely well-researched and will stand as a major work on the YD. I highly recommend it as a great work of scholarship. Anyone with an interest with an interest in the YD in World War I should read A Delicate Affair. Terry has done a great service to the YD in general and to the 102d Infantry Regiment of Connecticut in particular.

The heroes of this story is MAJ Rau and the soldiers of the 1st Battalion. Rau did not live long after the battle, He was killed on 25 July leading his battalion during the counteroffensive in the Champagne-Marne Campaign. Four 102d soldiers were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and 58 were awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action at Seicheprey.

The 1st Battalion was the second element of the YD awarded the French Croix de Guerre. The battalion distinguished itself during the same counteroffensive that resulted in the death of their commander and many other 102d soldiers.

On 14 January 1919, Marshal Petain came to visit the 102d and awarded the 1st Battalion its Croix de Guerre. The current 1st Battalion, 102d Infantry Regiment is assigned to the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The battalion distinguished itself again in Afghanistan in 2010 and was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation. MAJ Rau and his soldiers would have been proud.

—Len Kondratiuk, National Historian, Historian’s Book Corner

A Delicate Affair is one of the best books written on the AEF

A Delicate Affair is one of the best books written on the AEF. Terry Finnegan deserves much credit for telling the story of the relatively unknown battle of Seicheprey with impressive research and clear writing. Highly recommended.

Mitchell Yockelson

 

Highly recommended!

"A Delicate Affair on the Western Front is an historical account of the challenges that faced the US Expeditionary forces as they entered the First World War developing into a full scale fighting force that was to become the basis for our current standing army. Colonel Terrence Finnegan's exhaustive analysis has brought this period to life in such an incredibly detailed manner that the reader cannot help but be swept up into the dramatic forces at play, the gritty reality of the trenches, the heroic personalities, and the day to day maneuvering required to outwit and outgun the German war machine. There were missteps and stumbles along the way but the tone was set by the man leading the way in charge of Pershing's Fighting First, the First Division leader Major General Robert Lee Bullard who stated that whatever failures there were rested squarely on his shoulders, a leader and military strategist of the highest order. Colonel Finnegan's insight and observations of the various forces at play and the personal stories lends this book an aura of realism so often missing from historical accounts. Highly recommended!

Kevin Ryan

Excellent Narrative!

For readers interested in understanding the details of combat on World War One's Western Front, this is a must read. Finnegan provides a thorough narrative of trench warfare and America's first experiences facing the Germans. A Delicate Affair is superbly researched and written--a fine addition to the literature of WWI.

John Abbatiello

Brilliant writing and compelling research bring the dirt

LTC C.I. Harvey, USA (ret)

An easy victory for the Germans

A Delicate Affair covers a small scale action on the Western Front in March 1918. The results represented a bitter defeat for the Americans, and an easy victory for the Germans. As with the Battle of Kasserine Pass in February 1943, the Americans discovered that they were not completely prepared for modern warfare against the Germans. The Germans, however, learned that the American soldier was a determined fighter who would not surrender easily. The U.S. forces would be able to correct the shortcomings in their tactics, but the Germans could do nothing to stop the large number of American forces that were arriving in France.
Terry Finnegan’s book covers the battle in extreme detail, including incredibly précise information on the aviation units involved. Unlike many other authors, he has used primary sources from U.S., German, and French sources obtained by visiting these archives personally.
I would give A Delicate Affair an enthusiastic recommendation.

—James Davilla

Military Lessons for Our Generation

I believe Mr. Finnegan's book fills an important gap in understanding not only what happened in the latter stages of World War I on the Western Front, but why they happened. Military historians are generally aware that German tactical developments during this period provided much of the inspiration that led to the well known blitzkrieg tactics of World War II. These developments, along with an almost unique ability to quickly institutionalize these lessons, are vividly illustrated in this exhaustively researched work. Even more important is Finnegan's description of the application of these new tactics on the U.S. 26th Division in 1918 - a critical chapter in U.S. military history that has been almost entirely overlooked until now. Touching as it does on a myriad of tactical principles and challenges presented by combat then and now, "A Delicate Affair" should be required reading for current military officers, especially those who take their profession seriously.

Amazon Customer

History by a real storyteller...loved it...

It's been a long time since a book has captivated me as much as this one did. I'm not a Great War historian and, on first glance I thought this book was a bit 'heavy' for my level of knowledge but, no worries, it's written in such an accessible way, whether you're looking for the big sweeps of a historical event or the detail of an incredibly human story you'll find something for you in this book. At times I found myself turning pages to find out what happened next to some of the characters that Terrence Finnegan introduces us to. I suspect this book is going to live on my shelf to be taken down often and flicked through to, one, delight in history told as a storyteller would and, two, to ask some of those bigger questions about how we can have overlooked such a compelling story. Hopefully the latter will be addressed as the centenary of Seicheprey comes about. Any budding or established TV/Film makers out there could do a lot worse than look at making a programme/film on this battle and the tragic, brave and flawed people who planned and fought it. Thanks Mr Finnegan.

—Owen Edward Moody

A Fine Book on an Obscure but Important WW I Battle.
A profoundly satisfying read chronicling the horrors of trench warfare as endured by a U.S. Army National Guard division under French tactical control and under frequent harassment by Regular Army staff officers from HQ American Expeditionary Force. (What could possibly go wrong)? Sent to a quiet sector of the front, the 26th "Yankee" Division was targeted by the Germans in order to send a message to the Allies that the Americans were "not ready for prime time". The attack by elite German shock troops supported by extraordinarily heavy artillery fires including poison gas showed the Yanks short on skills but long on guts. And the message the Germans took from the "affair"? The Americans were physically and mentally tough, well-equipped, and inclined to fight bitterly even in confusing circumstances. And they were pouring into France at an alarming rate. The author has done an outstanding job of melding American, French, and German primary sources to produce a detailed but highly readable account of the "Yankee" Division's baptism of fire.

—Mark S. Pernell

Once more unto the breach...

Truly an outstanding work by Finnegan with in-depth analysis and understanding we've come to expect from this author...
Col. Finnegan's A Delicate Affair on the Western Front his newest contribution chronicles in many ways what was the American experience in the Great War was by focusing on a critical moment and location for the American Expeditionary Force. The German military hit the Woëvre sector with the anticipation of defeating the Americans thereby not only gaining propaganda “win” but also a foothold in a section of the front that they believed could have been further exploited. How the AEF commanders and men under their command quickly proved they were far more resilient and tenacious than the Germans had expected is a detailed from both sides of the battle. The research compiled for this book is extraordinary as both the German and Allied primary documents were used and are cited throughout the work, providing an outstanding research foundation for further studies. It is a well-illustrated work with contemporary photographs, maps and illustrations. The comprehensive Appendix, Notes, Bibliography and Index round out this authoritative work.

Carl J. Bobrow

Even for someone as interested in the Great War as me – I have a Masters degree in British First World War Studies – the conveyor belt of books on the Great War can be daunting and the quality patchy.
Finding something on a new aspect of the war, new for me anyway, can also be hard. So, I was intrigued to find this book, American operations on the Western Front are not something I knew a huge amount about, I do now!
For me this book worked on a number of levels not least because the author has done a good job of pitching his language and writing style so that the book can be read by specialist and non-specialists alike. Also, whilst I like the ‘big picture’ stuff of battle tactics, logistics and command structures etc., all of which are covered here, they are the underpinning of what is a human and personalised story.
Of all the things this book made me ponder the most surprising was how it added to the evidence challenging the perception that British battlefield commanders were unimaginative in their tactical
sophistication. Why did the Americans, with almost 4 years of British & French experience to draw on, adopt head-on attacks against in-depth fixed positions? Surely they would have looked at British & French casualty lists and thought better of that? So why didn’t they? Well, reading this I think it’s because they recognised the reality of the battlefield in front of them – to shift the Germans was going to need young men with rifle, bayonet, a bag of bombs and hearts as big as buckets. And they did it, something we parochial Brits and, more surprisingly, the Americans themselves seem not to appreciate. As a Brit this was a refreshing blast of new research that will, I’m sure, become a ‘must have text’ for students, Great War history buffs, even Battlefield Guides (it can be used to ‘walk in the footsteps’) and I suspect Mr Finnegan will be much in demand when it comes to centenary events commemorating 1918, if he talks as well as he writes I’ll go to hear him. Treat yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

Bob P.

Review of A Delicate Affair from The US Army War College Quarterly

By Greg Pickell, LTC, US Army (Ret.)

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Review of A Delicate Affair from On Point, The Journal of Army History

By Scott A. Porter

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