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The American Expeditionary Force in World War I: A Statistical History, 1917-1918, by George B. Clark

Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013. Pp. x, 356. Appends., notes, biblio., index. $39.95 paper. ISBN: 0786472235.

The AEF and its Campaigns by the Numbers

Clark, who has written extensively on World War I and the Marine Corps, including The Second Infantry Division in World War I and Hiram Iddings Bearss, U.S. Marine Corps: Biography of a World War I Hero, has compiled what might be called a handbook on the U.S. Army in Europe during the Great War.  The book has two main parts.  

In the first part Clark gives us an overview of America’s role in the war, with summary briefings of the various battles and campaigns in which the Doughboys were engaged.  Each briefing has a concise narrative treatment plus some fairly detailed statistics including units participating, opposing forces, casualties, and the like, with some comment on the action’s importance in the war. 

In the second and longer part, Clark gives us a profile of the principal units that were engaged in active operations.  This covers the divisions of the Regular Army, the National Guard, and the “National Army,” as well as major non-divisional organizations.  Each profile includes unit composition (with former state designations for Guard divisions), a brief history of its war service, from organization through training, movement overseas, operations, and return to the United States. 

Clark’s treatment has two main flaws, he does not offer critical evaluation of each unit, as not every unit did well, and some, for many reasons, did poorly, and thus provides no analysis of the Army’s performance.  Clark also omits entirely any comment about the enormous forces that never reached the front, but would have formed the back bone of the AEF had the war continued into 1919.  Nevertheless, The American Expeditionary Force In World War I is a very useful handbook for anyone interested in the AEF.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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