This book sets the standards in archival research, battlefield archaeology and forensics. It should have a place on every bookshelf.
A very coherent and readable account of the life of Alvin Cullum York. Using the archeological evidence uncovered, Mastriano gives the most detailed and complete description of York's action I have ever encountered. In addition to the archeology, the author has done extensive research in German Army archives to help flesh out many new details.
Mastriano dives deep into Alvin York's life before and after the exploits of October 1918, taking the reader on an authentic American journey to reveal a man sincere in his faith, true in his courage, and genuine in his humility. Mastriano mined American and German archival resources with a keen eye on placing the York story in a broader context. Exceptionally well researched and vividly written, this important, fresh consideration of York will appeal to anyone interested in The Great War.
Mastriano offers a very solid and detailed evaluation of York's military career while applying it to the overall context of his life, as well as the role that religion played in York's worldview and decisions during the war.
Alvin York is an invaluable asset to any scholar looking for an enjoyable read and broadens the historical understanding of what happened in the Argonne Forest on October 8, 1918 .
US Military History Review
Not only illuminates York's heroism but provides insights on small unit tactics and on the shortcomings of the American Expeditionary Forces. One of the more interesting aspects of the book is how York's civilian life was changed by the events in France. A truly useful and interesting account.
Reveals both the complexity of York and the authenticity of his achievements on the battlefield. The use of German documents is first-rate and adds a new dimension to our understanding of the Argonne battlefield in 1918. Mastriano's knowledge of the terrain is excellent.
Mastriano applies the tools of the professional military intelligence officer to the information from his exhaustive research in both American and German archives and his on-site battlefield analysis to confirm the historical veracity of the major elements of the Sergeant York legend as they have come down to us today. Just as importantly, he also brings to light new facts about that battle fought almost 100 years ago. The result is a tour de force of historical detective work.
Major General David T. Zabecki
[The book] really is a remarkable story of human development and virtue, and Mastriano tells it well. This book is invaluable to both the general reader and the scholar.
US Army War College Quarterly Parameters
The most detailed biography of York to date.
Mastriano uses York's life to provide an engaging narrative of the American experience in World War I, interwar American culture, and the mobilization for World War II.
Outstanding book and extensive research which lifts the veil of myth and legend that has surrounded my great-grandfather and his legacy for almost a century. The first-hand quotes and documentation provide a realistic look at the moral struggles he faced both before and after the war. The timeless story of faith and dedication that Mastriano tells is an inspiration to my generation.
Alvin York is a well-written biography that honors the memory of one of America's greatest heroes.
Bowling Green Daily News - J.W. Thacker
A compelling American story of Sergeant York's heroism and character just in time to commemorate the centennial of World War I. This account of faith, duty, courage, and humility will resonate with soldiers as well as those in whose name soldiers fight.
This stunning work is a great read on many different levels, each as good as the next: biography, gripping combat narrative, inspiring human interest saga, quasi-religous tract, Americana tale, investigative verification, and, finally, confirmation that York did exactly what both he and the United States Army said he did. The dedicated author is to be commended for producing what I feel will stand the test of time as one of the very best such works ever penned, probing deeply as well into all the possible negative aspects of the story to boot....Finally, this informative, detailed, and highly readable, engrossing text is well complimented by 10 outstanding maps and over 40 well-chosen black-and-white photographs. Truly, this is biography at its best, and not be missed!
Both the most comprehensive and the first serious biography of York in over 85 years.
Mastriano gives readers exactly what the book's title suggests—a new and insightful biography. This book is strongly recommended for any World War I aficionado, or those who simply enjoy a great biography.
This is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of General Pershing's AEF.
One of the best compilations of my Grandfather's early life, environment, and battle descriptions from both the American and German archives. Mastriano has captured Sergeant York's life from youth through his experiences during the war and afterwards. It is evident from his writings he has spent years researching and studying all aspects of my grandfather's life. The family appreciates his work and documenting so much of his life.
A well-researched analysis of the man and his decisions that fateful day in the Argonne. Mastriano offers the best evaluation so far of York's life, including his struggle with fame, why he retained such notoriety, and his attempts to appropriate it for his community, but not for personal gain. Mastriano's last chapter detailing the excellent interdisciplinary analysis of the York battlefield with the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition is invaluable to any military historian. Scholars will find
Alvin York an enjoyable read and a satisfactory supplement to the larger historical debates.
Journal of Military History
Mastriano marshals impressive new evidence from German battle records and his own detailed battlefield forensic research.
The great strength of this book lies in the insight it gives us not only into Sgt. York the soldier, but the way that York's life reflected the nature of America in the era of World War I. Readers interested in the war and that crucial era of American history will find much to repay their time spent with this book.
Deftly integrating the results of battlefield analyses and archival studies, Mastriano settles longstanding questions about Sergeant York's actions at the Meuse-Argonne and humanizes the hero with rich details of his early life.
Quarterly Journal of Military History
Douglas Mastriano's investigative zeal makes his Alvin York a singular achievement in the small library of York biographies, indeed definitive...
Michigan War Studies Review
Alvin York (1887–1964) was a simple Kentucky backwoodsman. Converted to Christianity in 1915, he professed to be a conscientious objector but was denied this by the draft board. Drafted, then deployed to France, he eventually found himself in the thick of a firefight in which his friends were being killed. York, by then a sergeant, killed a number of Germans and directed the capture of 132 more, earning the Medal of Honor. In this biography, Mastriano (U.S. Army colonel) discusses sergeant York's early life, faith, and activities through his death. He adds context to and corrects earlier works about his subject, but his use of battlefield archaeology is new and contributes considerable detail to and confirmation of York's feat. Using contemporary accounts the author found the location of the firefight and retrieved battlefield detritus, including items identifiable as belonging to known participants, thus pinning down the location. VERDICT A readable, thoroughly documented addition to the extensive literature available on an authentic and admirable war hero.—EB