The Illusion of Victory

The Illusion of Victory

America in World War I

Book - 2003
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Baker & Taylor
An examination of Woodrow Wilson's contributions to World War I profiles the president as a man of complex and contradictory agendas, citing his regret over the declaration of war and his inability to ratify U.S. membership in the League of Nations.

Perseus Publishing
A best-selling historian takes a scathing new look at Woodrow Wilson's handling--and mishandling--of World War I, the war that spawned all the catastrophes of the twentieth century

The political history of the American experience in World War I is a story of conflict and bungled intentions that begins in an era dedicated to progressive social reform and ends in the Red Scare and Prohibition. Thomas Fleming tells this story through the complex figure of Woodrow Wilson, the contradictory president who wept after declaring war, devastated because he knew it would destroy the tolerance of the American people, but who then suppressed freedom of speech and used propaganda to excite America into a Hun-hating mob. This is tragic history: inexperienced American military leaders drove their troops into gruesome slaughters; progressive politics were put on hold in America; an idealistic president's dreams were crushed because of his own negligence. Wilson's inability to convince Congress to ratify U.S. membership in the League of Nations was one of the most poignant failures in the history of the American presidency, but even more heartrending were Wilson's concessions to his bitter allies in the Treaty of Versailles. In exchange for Allied support of the League of Nations, he allowed an unfair peace treaty to be signed, a treaty that played no small role in the rise of National Socialism and the outbreak of World War II. Thomas Fleming has once again created a masterpiece of narrative American history. This incomparable portrait shows how Wilson sacrificed his noble vision to megalomania and single-mindedness, while paying homage to him as a visionary whose honorable spirit continues to influence Western politics.

Book News
Deceit between allies, hypocrisy and lies by the US president, attempts to turn American soldiers into cannon fodder, and the mocking of ideals are among the features American historian and historical novelist Fleming finds in the first great war of the previous century. Annotation (c) Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Blackwell North Amer
In this book, acclaimed historian Thomas Fleming undertakes nothing less than a drastic revision of America's experience in World War I. He reveals how the British and French duped Wilson and the American people into thinking the war was as good as won, and there would be no need to send an army overseas. He describes a harried president making speech after speech proclaiming America's ideals while supporting the Espionage and Sedition Acts that sent critics to federal prisons. Meanwhile, a government propaganda machine created a hate-driven "war will" that soon spilled over into attacks on ethnic Americans. On the Western Front, the Allies did their utmost to turn the American Expeditionary Force into cannon fodder. At the Paris Peace Conference, the cynical Europeans mocked Wilson and his ideals, and browbeat him into accepting the vengeful Treaty of Versailles, sowing the seeds of World War II.

Publisher: New York : Basic Books, [2003]
Copyright Date: ©2003
ISBN: 9780465024674
Branch Call Number: 940.373 Fleming 2003
Characteristics: 543 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 25 cm


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LRS1969 Dec 22, 2015

Actually not a bad book for this author.

One problem that I had with this was its failure to address in any real detail the fact that America did NOT win the war.

America's entry into and participation in World War 1 was more psychological than substantial. The number of American combat divisions was miniscule as compared to that if the French (and troops from their Empire) and British (and troops from their Empire).

"The speed and strength of the U.S. war effort wasn't a surprise only to the kaiser; it was one of the great strategic surprises of the 20th century. In April 1917, the U.S. had enormous industrial strength—some of which had been supplying the Allies with weapons and goods since 1914—and a powerful blue-water navy. But the U.S. Army was, by European standards, pitiful — not quite 140,000 men. With astonishing speed, the War Department began creating a new army from scratch to take on the Germans. Men were drafted and volunteers enlisted in unprecedented numbers. Germany had underestimated not only America's materiel superiority but also its courage and determination to win. By spring 1918, only 287,000 U.S. combat troops were in France. But that summer, the number soared as thousands of U.S. 'doughboys' completed their training and crossed the Atlantic. By August, the U.S. First Army had been created —some 500,000 men strong (at this point British and French forces alone numbered almost 9,000,000 EACH)... Enough Americans were finally on the Western Front to make a major contribution to the last battles of the war—often known as the (last) Hundred Days Campaign...U.S. troops sustained heavy casualties in the opening days, but German commanders looked on with horror: The Americans, they realized, would only grow stronger over the each of the coming months... "

A psychological impact (primarily) versus a substantial one. Germany (and the Central Powers) would have surrendered by Spring or early Summer of 1919 at latest. The internal collapse was already underway. Did America's entrance "save" lives of Allied soldiers? Undoubtedly. But replaced them with the deaths of American ones - 110,000 American deaths, however that included 47,000 by the "Spanish flu" (1918 Flu Pandemic) which started in the trenches of the Western Front and spread worldwide by soldiers from around the world returning home.

(Causing many more deaths than did World War One)


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