November 11, 1918. The final hours pulsate with tension as every
man in the trenches hopes to escape the melancholy distinction of
being the last to die in World War I. The Allied generals knew the
fighting would end precisely at 11:00 A.M, yet in the final hours
they flung men against an already beaten Germany. The result?
Eleven thousand casualties suffered-more than during the D-Day
invasion of Normandy. Why? Allied commanders wanted to punish the
enemy to the very last moment and career officers saw a fast-fading
chance for glory and promotion.
Joseph E. Persico puts the reader in the trenches with the
forgotten and the famous-among the latter, Corporal Adolf Hitler,
Captain Harry Truman, and Colonels Douglas MacArthur and George
Patton. Mainly, he follows ordinary soldiers' lives, illuminating
their fate as the end approaches. Persico sets the last day of the
war in historic context with a gripping reprise of all that led up
to it, from the 1914 assassination of the Austrian archduke, Franz
Ferdinand, which ignited the war, to the raw racism black doughboys
endured except when ordered to advance and die in the war's last
hour. Persico recounts the war's bloody climax in a cinematic style
that evokes "All Quiet on the Western Front, Grand Illusion, "and"
Paths of Glory."
The pointless fighting on the last day of the war is the perfect
metaphor for the four years that preceded it, years of senseless
slaughter for hollow purposes. This book is sure to become the
definitive history of the end of a conflict Winston Churchill
called "the hardest, cruelest, and least-rewarded of all the wars
that have been fought."
"From the Hardcover edition."
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