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To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918
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To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  83 ratings  ·  15 reviews
The authoritative, dramatic, and previously untold story of the bloodiest battle in American history: the epic fight for the Meuse-Argonne in World War I

On September 26, 1918, more than one million American soldiers prepared to assault the German-held Meuse-Argonne region of France. Their commander, General John J. Pershing, believed in the superiority of American "guts" o
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published January 1st 2008)
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Never fight the Russians in their snow – or the Germans in a forest stronghold. In 9 AD, in the depths of the Teutoberg Forest, a confederacy of Germanic tribes ambushed and annihilated a force of three Roman legions (read about the battle in Schama’s Landscape and Memory and you will have Anselm Kiefer nightmares); in the fall and winter of 1944 a number of US divisions bled out in the Hürtgen Forest, where the Germans had nested machine gun teams in cunningly camouflaged log redoubts and artil ...more
Dec 08, 2012 Joseph rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Serious military scholars
This book is really important to me. First, it is the definitive account of the battle in the Meuse-Argonne. Second, and more importantly, my dad's oldest brother, Raymonde was killed in this fight. In August, Raymonde's unit the 86th Div moved to New York where its elements shipped out to France between 22 Aug and 9 Sep. There is a reference to the 343rd being at St. Loubes, France. The 86th had hoped to go into action as an integral unit. However, that was not to be and the 86th was essentiall ...more
Definitely worth wading through the 400 plus pages. Dteailed account of America's main battle on the western front. I thought it lacked some historical context and didn't make much reference to what had been going on for the previous three years before the Americans turned up, but that would easily have added another 100 pages. One bit in particular stands out: some American troops enter a dug out and from deep in the darkness an American soldier asks them if they have come to arrest him? No the ...more
May 26, 2014 Nooilforpacifists is currently reading it
A good book, but it could have been far better. Endless repetition of the same stock phrases ("the attacked jumped off at 5:00am) make one thrust indistinguishable from another. This is amplified by the paucity of maps--and those included are of such poor quality as to be nearly useless.

In the first attack, General Pershing = tactical and strategic idiot, with no knowlege of modern warfare. He thought failure of will was at fault for his green Divisions' inability to break well-placed German mac
Andrew Weitzel
An addictive, readable account of US action in World War One. It presents personal accounts of soldiers, from generals to privates, which highlighted the disconnect Army leadership had from the actual conditions on the front. Like another reviewer noted, more maps would have been useful. Otherwise, a great book.
Roger Myles
Easy to read, good historical description. More maps would have aided the readers understanding. Not a lot of literary references to this particular WW1 battle, even in later day history volumes. This is possibly the result of the duration of the battle which is dwarfed by the activities of the previous 4 years and the preponderance of French and English literature covering WW1. This also may explain why it is not specifically remembered by Americans.

The unforgettable fact emerging from this pie
Burton Yale Yale
Terrific. Excruciatingly researched, well-written and carefully focused. Must reading for an understanding of America's role in WWI -- and how America's contribution was essential to the defeat of Germany.
Very entertaining read but relies much too heavily on personal accounts and overstates casualties.
Maps add little and are from the US Gov't Battlefields and Monuments publication. The author's numbers simply do not add up. Many regiments we encounter are eventually reduced to a weak battalion, indicating at least a 66% casualty rate. Many eyewitness accounts are from men who were never before in combat but their estimates of killed are taken at face value.
I actually agree with much of the author
If you had any doubts about the unbridled horror of no-holds-barred, all out WAR, Ed Lengel's graphic depiction of the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne will soon set you straight. The graphic accounts of suffering, horribly mutilated soldiers and service animals is sobering. One particular account of an artillery horse with an eye blown out and hanging over its muzzle, still being driven on by the soldiers, leaves me cold. Ed makes no attempt to glorify this war that should have ended all wars. How q ...more
Very informative book about the final battle in WWI. Was especially meaningful for me as my grandfather fought in this battle as part of the 6th Division of the AEF. I read this in preparation for a trip I took with my parents to these battlefields. We had a truly wonderful guide (Ingrid Ferrand) who took us all over Verdun and Meuse-Argonne. this book was a bit too dense on military detail for a lay person but I certainly came away with a dep understanding and appreciation for what my grandfath ...more
One would think the lacunae of World War I would be so tiny as to equate to angels/heads of pins. Amazingly, not so. This story--the story of America's bloodiest foreign battle, in a most important campaign--hasn't been told before. For students of the war, it's gripping, in particular because of the portraits of the participants, from Harry S. Truman to George Patton (which one had a more significant role?? Truman) to George C. Marshall to the novelist James M. Cain ("The Postman Always Rings T ...more
Sep 02, 2008 David rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historians and WWI scholars
Probably the definitive work on the definitive battle of the "war to end all wars", this scholarly work is a victim of too-scholarly writing and drags a bit at times.

For history buffs it's worth the effort.
Interesting book and organized in chronological order that broke down the Meuse-Argonne battle. This was the last campaign that the Americans fought in during the last months of World War I.
Lou Rera
Fantastic WWI battle account. Perfect for the research I am doing for my novel.
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Edward G. Lengel received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia in 1998, and is now Professor and Editor-in-Chief of the Papers of George Washington documentary editing project at the University of Virginia. In addition to editing several volumes of the Papers of George Washington, he has written six books, with four more on the way, and numerous articles for Military History (for w ...more
More about Edward G. Lengel...
General George Washington: A Military Life Inventing George Washington: America's Founder, in Myth and Memory World War I Memories: An Annotated Bibliography of Personal Accounts Published in English Since 1919 The Irish Through British Eyes: Perceptions Of Ireland In The Famine Era This Glorious Struggle: George Washington's Revolutionary War Letters

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