The GI Offensive in Europe: The Triumph of American Infantry Divisions, 1941-1945 / Edition 1

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Overview

The German Wehrmacht was one of the most capable fighting forces the world has ever known, but in the end it was no match for the Allies. Some historians contend that the Allies achieved victory through brute force and material superiority. But, as Peter Mansoor argues, all of the material produced by U.S. industry was useless without trained soldiers to operate it, a coherent doctrine for its use, and leaders who could effectively command the formations into which it was organized.

This book provides a comprehensive study of America's infantry combat performance in Europe during World War II, showing that the Army succeeded by developing combat effective divisions that could not only fight and win battles but also sustain that effort over years of combat. While American industry admittedly enabled the United States to sustain its overseas armies, the effectiveness of those forces ultimately rested on their organizational capabilities and ability to adapt to combat in a variety of lethal environments and to learn from their mistakes.

Mansoor analyzes the impact of personnel and logistical systems on the Army's strength, explaining how leaders used these systems to keep a small number of divisions at a high state of combat effectiveness. During the critical battles of 1944-45, American divisions were able to sustain this high level while their Wehrmacht counterparts disintegrated, demonstrating that the Army's endurance in extended combat was the most critical factor in its ultimate success. Mansoor also takes a close look at the personalities and capabilities of division commanders, infantry tactics and operations, logistics, and the benefits and weaknesses of stateside training.

The American army won, asserts Mansoor, because unit for unit at the division level it was more effective than its adversaries. By showing how U.S. infantry developed more quickly and fought better than commonly believed, The GI Offensive in Europe contributes significantly to the history of the U.S. Army in the European theater and to our overall understanding of military effectiveness.

This book is part of the Modern War Studies series.

Author Biography: Peter R. Mansoor, currently G-3 for the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, will soon assume command of one of the Army's armored brigades. He received his Ph.D. in history from Ohio State University, taught military history at West Point, and was special assistant to the director for strategic plans and policy, The Joint Staff, 1997-1999.

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Editorial Reviews

Dennis E. Showalter
A first-rate book that analyzes in convincing detail the institutional aspects of the American ability to produce a fighting army from literally nothing. With its strong human dimensions, it is also an essential complement to Stephen Ambrose's writing.
H. R. McMaster
A compelling and invaluable study that identifies and explains the foundation of victory against the Axis in Europe. A must read for anyone interested in understanding the American experience in World War II.
Michael D. Doubler
Mansoor provides compelling arguments, supported by exceptional research and analysis, for the ultimate superiority of American infantry divisions in World War II. Very well written and a good read, this book makes a significant addition to the understanding of the American army's role in winning the war.
Library Journal
Famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle once said of the infantry, "They are the guys that wars can't be won without," and he was right. Now Mansoor, a U.S. Army colonel, has written a compelling history of American infantry divisions in combat during World War II in this debut book. Mansoor's focus is in opposition to the commonly accepted theory that Allied victory in the war resulted from the overwhelming weight of American materiel. He confirms the importance of technology, resources, and logistics but gives the American infantryman the credit for facing the crucible of battle against a skilled and determined enemy. From the mobilization of an understrength, ill-trained, and poorly equipped army in 1940 to the juggernaut of 69 infantry divisions by 1945, Mansoor provides a thoughtful and highly readable analysis along the bloody road to victory over the German army. A powerful story; strongly recommended for all public and academic libraries.--Col. William D. Bushnell, USMC (ret.), Brunswick, ME Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Presents a study of America's infantry combat performance in Europe during World War II, showing that the Army succeeded by developing combat effective divisions that could not only fight and win battles but also sustain that effort over years of combat. Mansoor (lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and military historian) analyzes the impact of personnel and logistical systems on the Army's strength, and he argues that the American army won because unit for unit at the division level, it was more effective than its adversaries. Contains many b&w photos of Army personnel and battle scenes. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
Kirkus Reviews
A thoroughly researched study of the mythical GI (general infantry) in the European theater of WWII. Mansoor, a lieutenant colonel in the US Army who formerly taught military history at West Point, offers a fascinating look at the way in which the army's basic fighting unit was recruited, trained, mobilized, commanded, and deployed throughout the long four years that America fought in Europe. Dense with details and statistics, the book is written in a better-than-average academic style. Mansoor skips the more populist approach of oral history and offers little that will satisfy the mass audience of Saving Private Ryan; rather, he sifts through hard facts revealed in the enormous trove of WWII documents to analyze the function of the infantry in action, and to describe how the military manned it despite a scarcity of resources and an abundance of operations competing for them. His principal finding—that it was the army's achievement to quickly mold citizens into soldiers—is nothing new, but other conclusions will provide fodder for historians of the war for years to come—for example his argument that the army displayed an impressive ability to regenerate itself consistently and fold new recruits into existing combat structures. Another key move he highlights is the decision that individual army units had to be as self-contained as possible. Mansoor covers some admittedly well-trodden ground effectively and with a deft use of fact that the hardened reader of military history will enjoy and that any academic will appreciate. This valuable account, which rounds out the historical record of how the infantry fit into the war effort as a whole, deserves a spot on the shelvesalongside the works of Stephen Ambrose and Paul Fussell. (14 maps, 32 photos, not seen).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700612260
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 6/28/1999
  • Series: Modern War Studies
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 346
  • Sales rank: 958,881
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
1 Introduction 1
2 The Mobilization of the Army of the United States 16
3 Citizens to Soldiers: Precombat Training 49
4 First Battles: North Africa and Sicily 84
5 The Long Road to Germany: The Italian Campaign, 1943-1944 111
6 Normandy: Graduate School in the Hedgerows 133
7 Breakout and Pursuit: Maneuver Versus Firepower 160
8 Sustaining the Force: The Siegfried Line, Lorraine, and Vosges Campaigns 181
9 The Battle of the Bulge 216
10 The American Blitzkrieg 237
11 The Combat Effectiveness of Infantry Divisions in the Army of the United States 249
Glossary 269
Notes 277
Bibliography 317
Index 331
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