Hundred Days: The Campaign That Ended World War I

Hundred Days: The Campaign That Ended World War I

by Nick Lloyd
     
 

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In the late summer of 1918, after four long years of senseless, stagnant fighting, the Western Front erupted. The bitter four-month struggle that ensued—known as the Hundred Days Campaign—saw some of the bloodiest and most ferocious combat of the Great War, as the Allies grimly worked to break the stalemate in the west and end the conflict that had

Overview

In the late summer of 1918, after four long years of senseless, stagnant fighting, the Western Front erupted. The bitter four-month struggle that ensued—known as the Hundred Days Campaign—saw some of the bloodiest and most ferocious combat of the Great War, as the Allies grimly worked to break the stalemate in the west and end the conflict that had decimated Europe.

In Hundred Days, acclaimed military historian Nick Lloyd leads readers into the endgame of World War I, showing how the timely arrival of American men and materiel—as well as the bravery of French, British, and Commonwealth soldiers—helped to turn the tide on the Western Front. Many of these battle-hardened troops had endured years of terror in the trenches, clinging to their resolve through poison-gas attacks and fruitless assaults across no man’s land. Finally, in July 1918, they and their American allies did the impossible: they returned movement to the western theater. Using surprise attacks, innovative artillery tactics, and swarms of tanks and aircraft, they pushed the Germans out of their trenches and forced them back to their final bastion: the Hindenburg Line, a formidable network of dugouts, barbed wire, and pillboxes. After a massive assault, the Allies broke through, racing toward the Rhine and forcing Kaiser Wilhelm II to sue for peace.

An epic tale ranging from the ravaged fields of Flanders to the revolutionary streets of Berlin, Hundred Days recalls the bravery and sacrifice that finally silenced the guns of Europe.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/28/2013
Lloyd, of King’s College London, enters the upper tier of Great War historians with this admirable account of the war’s final campaign, “an incredible story of shot and shell, of battles on a scale almost unimaginable to modern generations.” The “Hundred Days,” from August 8 to November 11, 1918, featured a coordinated series of Allied attacks that pushed the Germans out of France and led the German government finally to seek peace. Lloyd’s unfailing eye for telling anecdotes vitalize his narrative, and he avoids objectifying incidents for the sake of titillation. To set the tone, he describes in unadorned prose the death, in action, of an ordinary British private on October 27, 1918, and the consequences for his family. The text brims with archival research, depicting French and British armies like “coiled springs, taut and alert; waiting to strike.” Lloyd depicts the American army as created from nothing but “hard work, improvisation, courage and determination.” He discusses the Western Front’s “powerful emotional and psychological pull,” and the slow-growing sense that its four-year agony might be ending. German soldiers faced “chaos, disorganization, shellfire and endless fighting” against Allied armies whose commanders were concerned at their own “exhausted state.” Germany, lacking resources, cracked first, its resistance ending “fitfully, in confusion, with a whimper.” But the Allies were too worn to complete their victory and November 11, 1918, while formally ending the war, only set the stage for “two decades of missed opportunities and appeasement.” (Feb.)
From the Publisher

A Maclean’s Best Read of 2014

“A sobering but essential read on the last days of a horrific conflict.... The American role in the final victory has been downplayed by Eurocentric historians.... Now we have an esteemed British historian...giving America’s soon-famed “doughboys” their just due.”
The Washington Times

“A brilliantly enlightening approach to war and men’s lives.... Lloyd has provided an accessible overview of how strategic and tactical shifts—like the surge in Iraq and the associated urban outposts—can help alter the course of a war and indeed end it. But much more importantly...he explores how those strategic and tactical shifts affected the lives of soldiers. As history progresses, it is their lives and experiences that are often most at risk of fading. There are no living veterans of the Great War, making it all the more essential that not only the tactics, tools, and economy of war, but also the soldiers themselves, remain the important pieces of history. At its best, Hundred Days does just this.”
—Daily Beast

“Lloyd’s narrative is first-rate.... With clarity and genuine sympathy for the combatants, Lloyd tells the story of the summer fighting that led to the long and increasingly rapid retreat of the German armies in the fall.... Ten million soldiers died fighting in World War I, and perhaps as many as 20 million more were wounded. Their stories deserve to be told. Professor Lloyd has done so very well indeed.”
Army Magazine

“One of the few truly noteworthy WWI books to issue in the centennial flood from the presses of the Western world in observance of anniversary of the war’s beginning.... Hundred Days is a bracing re-dramatization of the horrors that were most fresh in the minds of all concerned when those days were over.”
—Open Letters Monthly

“Brisk and thoroughly engrossing… Far from being a pointless stalemate in the mud, the last hundred days of [World War I] saw the Allied armies push their adversaries back from the Paris commuter belt all the way to the German border itself.”
—Evening Standard (London)

“A readable, instructive, and compelling narrative of Allied successes and German failures…Hundred Days succeeds in its ambition of covering all the major combatants on the Western Front in the final campaign of World War I. Lloyd adroitly combines sweeping historical scope with the perspectives of the men who did the fighting on the ground. All this in a history that taps the latest relevant scholarship without sidetracking the narrative.”
—Michigan War Studies Review

“His accounts of each battle are both lively and clear...the real strength of Lloyd’s work is his treatment of the experience of the war from an individual perspective. He paints vivid portraits of the character and motivations of the various commanders and draws on a variety of first hand accounts from men at all levels on both sides of the front”
—History in the Margins

“Lloyd… enters the upper tier of Great War historians with this admirable account of the war’s final campaign.... Lloyd’s unfailing eye for telling anecdotes vitalize his narrative…. The text brims with archival research.”
—Publishers Weekly

“A fine account of the Allies’ dramatic but ultimately unsatisfying victory in World War I.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Lloyd effectively proves his thesis that Allied military might and leadership, with four hard years of strategic and tactical lessons learned, were what brought the war to a close. While most of the new books commemorating the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war will focus on its causes and origin, Lloyd’s analysis of the final campaigns brings a new perspective to the terrible conflict.”
—Library Journal

“This culmination of four years of bloodshed has been largely forgotten.... [Lloyd] gives the reader an insight into the raw emotions of the period.”
—The Oxford Times

“This is a powerful and moving book by a rising military historian. Lloyd’s depiction of the great battles of July-November provides compelling evidence of the scale of the Allies’ victories and the bitter reality of German defeat.”
—Gary Sheffield, Professor of War Studies, University of Wolverhampton

Library Journal
11/15/2013
Lloyd (defense studies, King's Coll. London; Loos 1915) turns his attention to the 1918 Allied offensive on the western front, which forced Germany's leaders to ask for an armistice in early November of that year. He describes a war of movement, one that featured smart tactical decisions by Allied planners, but ultimately a war whose conclusion was almost as tragic as its waging. The chaos experienced by German armies during the Allied offensive was kept hidden from most of the German population. Since the war's battles were not fought on German soil and the German army was able for the most part to retreat successfully, the myth of the "stab in the back" found quick reception with German nationalists who needed to explain their county's defeat. Lloyd effectively proves his thesis that Allied military might and leadership, with four hard years of strategic and tactical lessons learned, were what brought the war to a close. VERDICT While most of the new books commemorating the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war will focus on its causes and origin, Lloyd's analysis of the final campaigns brings a new perspective to the terrible conflict. Recommended for general readers interested in learning more about the war; for most World War I collections.—Michael Farrell, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL
Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-26
Many more books describe World War I's beginning than its end, so readers will welcome this engrossing history covering Allied offensives from July 1918 to the German surrender in November. Lloyd (Defense Studies/Kings Coll. London; The Amritsar Massacre: The Untold Story of One Fateful Day, 2011, etc.) disagrees with the traditional portrayal of World War I as a series of bloody offensives launched by dimwitted generals who failed to learn from their mistakes. In reality, they paid close attention. By 1918, Allied commanders--Alexander Haig, Philippe Pétain and John Pershing of the British, French and American armies--could take advantage of technological progress and bitter experience. Furthermore, tanks and aircraft were available in far greater numbers, and advances in artillery increased accuracy and made it unnecessary to "register" every gun by dropping a few shells on the enemy, thus warning of an attack. Previous debacles, from Ypres to the Somme to Passchendaele, taught that it was impossible to sustain an offensive no matter how successful since artillery and transport bogged down in the torn-up, muddy battlefield. It was far better to halt when progress slowed and enemy resistance was increasing and attack elsewhere. Lloyd describes how they proceeded with detailed descriptions of a dozen immense, half-forgotten offensives (Amiens, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne) that, despite often horrendous casualties, pushed back an increasingly exhausted and demoralized enemy. The author emphasizes that both the German economy and its army were on the verge of collapse at the armistice, but since Allied forces were still beyond the frontiers, die-hard enemies, including Hitler, could claim that Germany's army was not defeated but rather betrayed from within. A fine account of the Allies' dramatic but ultimately unsatisfying victory in World War I.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465074907
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
01/28/2014
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
553,267
File size:
7 MB

Meet the Author

Nick Lloyd is Senior Lecturer in Defense Studies at King’s College London. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham and is the author of two previous books, Loos 1915 and The Amritsar Massacre: The Untold Story of One Fateful Day. He lives in Gloucestershire, England.

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