tv 2014 Guggenheim- Lehrman Prize in Military History CSPAN April 17, 2016 8:30am-9:31am EDT
the idea that you work for a single important work to way up the ladder, move to homeownership, having a pension, a whole story that led america to think of its of a similar class can with middle-class dreams. the millennials know that's not the story. as part of why they have higher focus on quality of life. they identify with the cities that they live in. they believe in urban density. half of the millennials don't have drivers licenses. two-thirds of millennials with college degrees have already moved to the 50 largest cities. so they are moving. there is a whole change in common values, where they live, what their life trajectory is the millennials are not miserable. in fact some of the most optimistic or even though the baby boomer has the best shot, millennials are pretty optimistic about the future of the country. >> stanley greenberg is the author of the new book "america
ascendant." thanks so much. >> thank you. thanks for having me. >> tonight's program is a presentation of the guggenheim-lehrman prize in military history, a $50,000 prize jointly administered by the harry frank guggenheim foundation and the new york historical society. it is thanks to the leadership of our great trustee, the lincoln and financial history scholar louis hillerman, that we've join with the harry frank guggenheim foundation this year in trying to engage greater public discourse in wartime studies your i want to acknowledge mr. letterman's vision of importance of understanding military history for all educated citizens and
his work on have of our great institution and expanding intellectual endeavors. thank you so much. [applause] >> i also want to note of encouragement and support of our extraordinary board share. in her philanthropic role, am has seen and understood vividly how the study of the steps to work, the conduct of military campaigns and diplomatic responses to work and play an essential part in the quest for a more peaceable future. thank you so much for all you have done. [applause] >> i also want to recognize other trustees in the audience this evening. glenn, russell, and thank him for the work on behalf of this great institution. and i want you to acknowledge the work of my colleague, our
vice president as library director, michael ryan in the administration of this prize. tonight's program will last about an hour. there will be a reception following the program enforcement gallery outside, and copies of the nominees books will be available for sale in our museums star. we are pleased to welcome andrew roberts active in your historical society. he is the distinguished fellow at the new york historical society and a director of the harry frank guggenheim foundation in new york. is also the chair of the 2015 chechen committee for the guggenheim-lehrman prize in military history. in 2012, andrew roberts was awarded the william penn prize, and in 2007 he delivered the prestigious white house lecture. andrew roberts recent book was the 2014 winter of the award and
2015 when of the "los angeles times" biography prize. andrew roberts is the author and editor of 12 books including masters intimated, 1931-1945. we are also thrilled to welcome the nominees for the 2015 prize. matthew davenport for "first over there: the attack of cantigny, america's first battle of world war i" published by saint martin's press. david preston for "braddock's defeat: the battle of the monongahela and the road to revolution" published by oxford university press. nicholas stargardt for the german -- "the german at war: a nation under arms, 1939-1945", and t.j. stiles for "custer's trials: a life on the frontier of a new america." published by alfred not
incorporate the i would now like to welcome our great friend, josiah bunting, president of the harry frank guggenheim foundation. the foundation as you may know support vouchers scholarly research on problems of violent aggression and comment providing research grants to establish scholars and dissertation fellowships to graduate students during the dissertation writing your pictures before i welcome to the site to the stage i want to remind you to please switch off anything that makes a noise like a cell phone. and now pleased to join me in welcoming josiah bunting to the stage. [applause] >> thank you, louise. and let me use this opportunity to extend on behalf of just about everybody in manhattan a bouquet.
her work and that of their colleagues in the transforming of this wonderful old institution into what it is today is absolutely fantastic. we are all in your debt. this is beyond any argument, the best state historical situation -- association in this country and it's a real pleasure for us to be affiliated with you, louise khan and with roger and with all of you. you have heard a brief introduction of our chairman. i'm going to reintroduce him and all of our judges. our chairman and good friend andrew roberts known to most of you is quite simply the best diplomatic historian now writing. not only is he a great writer and researcher but he's one of these people who appears like charles dixon -- charles dickens to be able to write all the time ceaselessly at the quality of
the writing and the history in the research and all of that kind of thing is always of a peace. so we look forward to hearing you, andrew. we have a wonderful panel of judges. i would like them to stand when i introduce them. flora fraser, currently best selling writer, the current bestseller dr. frieden of the washington family in america. general charles brower, former head of the department of history at west point, academic dean at the virginia military institute and author of what is regarded as the definitive history of america's war, second world war in the pacific. ralph peters, prolific civil war and novelist, a regular who's face must be from the community on fox news and the colonists for the "new york post." finally, patrick lang who could
not be with us this evening, literally the father of arabic studies at the military academy at west point. this is a wonderful opportunity for us this evening. i would like to say one last thing about this program in military history. its godfather is louis lehrman, as schubert earlier, our debt to him is inestimable good military history occupies a relatively low caste on the academic cachet total -- totem pole at most of our prestigious university. it is right down there with home ec in speech last night edges and university adjuvant interest in military history, they think you must be a relative of dick cheney or you want to rub out
somebody. but in fact when the american secretary of state in 1947 was asked to speak at the 200 anniversary of fun at princeton university, almost all of his speech was about probably the greatest military and political story who ever lived. politics and war and those things which lead us into armed conflict are part of the human condition, and we ignore our obligation to familiarize ourselves with their history and the history of military affairs and wars. that's why we are here this evening to recognize its foremost practitioners. dr. roberts, ready? [applause]
>> ladies and gentlemen, it's a greahonor to be back here at the new york historical society. the last time i was here a few months ago, they allow digital copies of my book. a lady came up and said that i had the authentic accent of a british hollywood villain. [laughter] the great thing was i think she meant it as a compliment. today we are going to be interviewing these four men who have written really superb history books, absolutely anyone of them, the judges agreed today, could have won this prize. there isn't a second rate work amongst them. this is all really first class history writing, and military history writing. i'm going to be into just more of inside like to call them up so that you know who is who. i do know if you can tell if
they can set any particular chairs, but nonetheless the first of them is matt davenport was written about the battle in 1918. this is matt. [applause] mat with the newest wizard and this is a passing book about the first battle that american forces from the american expedition lead force fought in the first world war. our next finalist is t.j. stiles, the pulitzer prize-winning biographer of general custer. [applause] >> next i would like to introduce david preston who wrote a book about a battle that
i'm not going to pronounce correctly. you had to come and tell me -- that's why the last time i'm going to get that right. mr. prescott. [applause] >> and mr. peston is a professor at the citadel in south carolina to lastly i would like to introduce to you professor nicholas stargardt who's written a book called "the german at war" which is a fascinating insight into german society between 1939-1945. thank you very much. [applause] >> the first thing i would like to do is to ask all of you the same question. it's a pretty straightforward but anybody likes to know, what
led you to write this particular book at this particular stage in your careers? matt, this is your first book so what made you choose this particular subject? >> i knew a veteran of the battle when i was growing up. he was a friend of my grandfathers who fought in the second world war and they both fought with the big red one, except this man had fought in the first world war and he would say i was the first of the first. on his veterans cab was can't pronounce it like an american phonetically of which will go and i said cantigny pic i did know what it was. years later in a holistic history of world war i i saw the nick navarrette was america's first battle and victory gives the german army in either world war i thought i would like to know more. i look for a book on and i couldn't find one and a research more, and after learn more and tracked down some relatives i thought maybe i could write the book.
so that's how i think intuit. >> david preston. >> yes. my first book dealt with the uruguayan people in the colonial era. the book very much come out of that project. i gained first of all a healthy respect for the significance of braddock's but i became very intrigued by this set of characters who are at braddock's defeat of 17th at five also went on to significant careers during the american revolution. obviously, george washington first and foremost but also a ratio gates, the victor at saratoga, daniel morgan the victor, charles lee, and also thomas gage, the future commander-in-chief of the british army. the project first began as for a kind of elected biography that
would tell the story of the french and indian war and its connection to the american revolution through the lives of these individuals. however as i started to research the book including here at the new york historical society i came to see that there was still so much to be told about the story of braddock's defeat and the decisions of all of the different players, the french and british empires, all of the different indian peoples drawn from half the continent, especially the french and indian side of this whole story had never been fully explored. >> nicholas, you have been writing this book for 20 years. spin which may be think i was going to write this book at all. the previous one was daunting enough which was an attempt to write the history of the war and
the holocaust through children's eyes. and they didn't want to do the shortcut of anything rather elderly adults about their childhood. i wanted to go look for drawings which i found first in prague. in fact, that was the suck in if you like for the project were i found these drawings, extraordinary pictures mainly by teenage girls aged 13, 14 before they were deported to auschwitz were almost all of them were gassed. that was something i never thought about. they are very movie i wanted to use them as historical sources. i set off on this harebrained project which took 10 years and after that i wanted everything to do with the holocaust, nazis, children. i got intrigued about one thing which was as part of the work if you want to situate german
children, your situate against their parents and that adults aside ended became clear to me that german society going on with this were virtually to defeat of saddam historical decried that and had the same which increasingly sounded like an alibi that all germans had been defeated. the german army's first huge defeat in stalingrad in late february for three but some of the turning point was as if you couldn't say you were not there but you could say we did not want to be there and we are waiting for all to be over. ask yourself, how does a whole society go on with total war for over two more years? these are huge periods of time in huge amount of commitment. >> and t. j., what drew you to custer? >> failure really was the
starting point. i was, i am very fascinated and have been throughout my writing career with the way in which the american civil war and reconstruction period are so often separate and get the only one source. the united states interest to warrant one in and ends at a completely different place. it's both the war and the consequences of the war. that completely changed american society and american ideas. after writing about jesse james which was very much civil war and reconstruction, the rise of the corporate economy and that transformation in the same period, i wanted to write about the idea of civil rights of racial equality as was written into the constitution by the civil war generation. i could come up with a book that would succeed in doing that. i began thinking about the
larger expanse of the united states and begin thinking in terms of biography which i love to write, and how you can develop great things in biography. i went from think about how custer's life as a great travelogue of history, the rise of modern wall street at one end, the death of slavery in the south and east of preindustrial pneumatic people waiting sometimes successful campaigns of businesses in the great west. custer's life carries you back and forth. i realized the book, his life is not the temporal frontier, that in many ways including aspects of his military career his life was about the book under the birth of the united states. his personal difficult in adapting to those changes. >> and you do go into the central fact that his death, the one thing that we know so much about, the ultimate failure in a sense, not just because he died
but because he lost the battle as well, you have as your epilogue rather than a sort of central feature of his existence. i would like to ask both you and also david, because you are both writing about battles of the indians won, and won them so successfully, massacre, serving in little bighorn but also at monongahela. the idea, hasn't it been historically pretty racist to present these great indian victories as effectively having been the result of mistakes made by their white opponents? it strikes me that both at the reno inquiry and also the braddock's defeat which was
given to it back in 18 century, they were almost, in both cases, attempting to sort of take away from the inherent truth, which is about the indians won these battles superbly. to what extent you would say that is true? >> i think that is absolutely correct. the way in which i examine the little bighorn as you mentioned is through this court that was held two years later, and i leave aside the battle entirely to come back to the way americans try to reconstruct it. other than have a narrator who carries you through the battle, they are, hard to understand. to the process of discovery its. the fact that it takes place offstage after very intimate narrative of this figure who recorded his life so well. and that the court itself tells you what the narrative is. it's what did we do wrong?
it's on the us military and then from self-consciously white, united states thinking about how it messed up. and custer himself is one reason why that battle is famous. other figures have died in there. i don't get it would've become quite the culture so cuts going into a significant. but again with custer been this controversial figure in his lifetime, the army wants to know what he did wrong, and we overlook the essential fact that as the historian of the indian wars noted, it's not so much that the army lost or custer lost, is that the indians won spent that brings us to braddock's defeat. to what extent was the braddock's defeat as opposed to the french and indian victories? >> historians have written about braddock's defeat have always approached it from an anglo centric perspective. i think that is partly a
function of ethnocentrism as you observe. the earliest accounts of the battle that emerged, the reason they were shocking in the line minds of many britons was yours accounts suggested there were only as many as 300 native warriors. so the shock was a such a large british force could be so decisively beaten by so small in number of native warriors. nonetheless, the battle is very much a testament to the real military power that native people still possess in 18th century america. the other way that reinforces the anglo centric perspective is simply the source material, that for the british, i imagine as well for the u.s. army in the 1870s, there was a lot to
explain, a lot of finger-pointing, a lot of blame. >> what of the things that all of these books have is an awful lot of slaughter. we have the 66 percentage of people of braddock's army who were killed or wounded, 100% of course in the case of custer and the group around custer at little bighorn, 10,000 german soldiers a day dying in 1945 up until the end of the war in 1945. and some 1600 out of the 4000 american soldiers killed or wounded at cantigny. matthew, can you give us a sense of what it was like to fight a day after day, it was a two and half the battle but, of course, there was much more going on afterward, when you are losing
something like a 10th of the people getting killed and a quarter getting wounded. >> it's tough to get a sense without getting into the source history and taking on its own terms and hearing what the survivors actually book about the experience, that it started with 2500. they got reinforced by the 50 nevermore and had to hold lines for to hold lines for two and half days exposed to german artillery. this was new for america. we at the time could not conceive of the laws that have been going on for over three years, of course the english and the french had been experienci experiencing. and this battle, they go over the top and they don't lose many in the initial attack but the french army supporting artillery have to pull out after the first couple of hours because the germans had renewed. this was not foreseen by the planners, the chief among them was george marshall.
so the push into the village into these expos lines and they don't have any big guns from the french to keep the german artillery under counter battery fire. so they just get pummeled for two and half days and they can't be reinforced or resupplied. i can't imagine what it's like to be pushed up against my human limits after most units were literally decimated, 10% killed almost, and a third wounded. and they have told these trenches next to the wounded and dead lying next to them. it's difficult to imagine which is why i to go to source history's, and the descriptions are brutal. >> nicholas, you of course dealt with hundreds of source history's in your book with regard to this very same thing, but with civilians rather than on the battlefield primarily.
as well as 10,000 who died per day in 1945, there were 5750 who died at the end of 1944 as well. so the central question, this question is, why did the germans and how did the germans hold out for so long? that phrase hold outcome if you could talk about the phrase hold out. >> when matthew was talking about how armies cope with his slaughter, i was thinking back to when did the first face this. i think the answer is probably 1941. the campaign was a matter of two or three weeks before it is clear they want a. it takes four weeks to capture warsaw, the campaign against france with
six weeks. suddenly they campaign in the soviet union opens up this limitless war, and the wheels come off really in the winter of
1941-42, the first german defeat. everybody imagines themselves back in 1812 wind is very strong napoleonic fear. coming out of it on the russian side is working when peace. the german site it's afraid to fear. the deep fear that it will collapse, going to headlong flight, little retreats, little breakthroughs will come to choice. it's also a period of this kind of change of life and expectations because the problems of keeping armies supplied means they're having to bring it munitions at the expense of winter clothing which is held back. families are sending winter clothing themselves which are going through this sort of little parcel post which is one of the key
things that keeps it going. these levels -- letters and parcels from families. you see these in the letters and diaries from the name.
they feel that not only is it a practical assistance as a kind patriotic time, it i is rooted n family and his love of family support prove it to them, but did not been abandoned. these thin gray lines stretched out in snow, very shallow, very easy to break the you would think at that moment, can be held. one of the key things in the book was think about the military and civilian experience of war is been punctuated by crises, and the crises are transformative. so what emerges from that winter crisis is one which is learned to be more ruthless than ever before. the front line and realignment units anticipates in the mass killing of civilians. but you get similar crises on the homefront which we can talk about later. >> one of them that i was expecting to be a crisis when i read about it but actually turns out in many things to strengthen
the regime was the assassination attempt on hitler. that did not demoralize the german people in the way it might have, did it speak was not at all. i think the conspirators knew themselves that they would be treated as traitors by the population. they knew the chances of succeeding were very slim. ..
the war is still on. basically they didn't survive to improve the story afterwards. they see it as a right of progress that this is -- the voyage of self-discovery or they lose all the innovation they went to war with to find a better version so it becomes very personal for them. >> in the concept often of treachery is a fascinating one and we find a lot of one of the
soldiers taking part in the attack not only went four to give himself up, but also started it's not to give away the american plans. tell us more about that because it seems shocking because almost the whole rest of your book is a story of tremendous patriotism and then you had this. what was going on there? >> we are not certain. i placed both sides of it in the book. certainly the platoon leader believed he was searching for the german the day before the attack one battalion of the three battalion friend to let up into the trenches which was probably unwise in retrospect because they knew everything about the planned attack in the german flight to plan trencher
is to capture american than they did. they essentially raiding party of about 50 storm troopers across and when they came across, of course the most important thing with the members of the battalion cannot be captured or the battle will be called off in the one man jumped out of the trenches, ran forward. according to the men around him, they spoke in german to each other and started running back which looked a little suspicious. so they shut all of them. they made sure he did not make it back. what is interesting is the man was never maimed. in the report says he named. it was redacted, even the original reports of the archives. i had to find it in a letter that one of the men wrote home and said so himself from wisconsin was apparently working for the other side. here 95, 96 years later i find then covered it this was it his names on the monuments of the adventure fallen.
he was born in oppression immigrant parents. still not certain, but probably pretty sure he was searching for the german spirit so that was a surprise. >> another fascinating thing about all of these books is the very powerful sense of place. they have all been to the places they read about. it's very important of course for writers to do that. as well as the battlefield that actually collude down some of the rivers. how important in your book was this idea, much of which is now under attack. >> when i saw the vestiges, scars of the red in a canoe that
some of the principal french waterways like french great time in the allegheny river, those experiences were truly like an epiphany and they changed how i was reading sources because you've understood the sheer difficulties of logistics in the 18th century for the french and the british forces. how the french managed to move canoes than supply 700 isles from montréal down to four to came was a staggering achievement. so it highlighted the french had logistical difficulties equal to those of the british trying to get across the appalachian. so it very much revolutionized my reading of the sources and with a critical of the research process. >> p.j., one of the things we were very impressed with was your objectivity about general
custer. you give the reader every opportunity it strikes me to think that this man was a bit of a mozzarella bet it the way he treated his wife, his terrible sarcasm to paypal, the fact he was a get rich quick capitalist of the worst time. he really did treat people and listening and callous and not he was also a commander in the civil war. how future feeling about custer change if indeed it did in the course of writing your book? >> at the difficult question. you left out a few other things. but we don't have enough time this evening. >> you believe that's two others
that he at indian prisoners war that he cap shared. which historically nowadays with the same pretty much as war crime. >> and the massacre of scores was -- how is it pronounced? washington. that's where crime is low. >> this is a very interesting question because if you fall into the prosecution of where the defense mode, which is so common in biography, either identify with the subject or become committed to the wrongs of the world. they knew begin to lose the complete picture which means you don't understand who the person was in their significance and the role and it women needing and i believe biography and history is both the scholarly
which means you're seeking not only to analyze research but also to invoke the human experience. with custer, the question for me is not whether he was appealing or not, whether he is morally correct or not, which keeps me interested as a biographer is what is happening compelling and at times and predict the bold. so we were actually having this discussion before hand about how to use the phrase in english working class menu is writing about textile workers have they suffered and that's actually a phrase that can be applied to all kinds in which they get dismissed in their actions i reviewed in light of division and conversation by later generations since have been understood in their own terms. so we find some of the same
qualities that made custer a very compelling and very fact of combat also are sort of the flip side of insecurities and his craving for attention, fears about his son limitations, his desire to compensate for what he feels like insisting the person in their entirety makes them more significant. if we dismiss the ability we would not understand subjectively important role in helping to end the american civil war and helping to feed american indians. if we go to the other side, we miss how controversial he was in his own time, especially for his intervention in politics. >> you do point out how political about or was and how generals or politicians.
not all of them, obviously, but through the use of politics as well as good commanders. he also used people or the sea became the protége and very much to anybody who is about to end up downhill leg. you also say that race was for him existential to his worldview as it were to take for granted in a sense. talk to us a little about his copperhead article views, attitudes towards abolition of cores and also that he did in reconstruction. >> this is a fascinating story which was eliminated by made by
the document i found going to a set of records in the national archives in which people normally do not search for information, that literally days after -- the day after he marched in the grand review at the ironman washington at the end of the civil war he was depleted tax somewhat eventually became occupation of the only major confederate state that has not actually been conquered by union armies is barely any penetration. it was a state that because of slavery had actually move stronger and sent their human property member crew, the institution room are rooted. so the interest it now says with a very large population of african-americans in which slavery was still being pursued on a practical level even though
legally he hadn't been abolished. the 9-year-old girl who had been held in slavery pharma after the declaration of emancipation who have left the plantation where she was being held across 23 miles of countryside to find her mother. the teenage boy from the family had held her found her and murdered her brutally. custer had to decide what to write here. this is the central element of how the military played this role during reconstruction. the federal tool for pursuing federal policy is and developing the american civil war. custer himself like many in the army was deeply conservative. this is crucial to understanding why every can action filled.
there is the moment in which a generation transfer of the constitution and yet we end up in the jim crow era segregation. and custer receive some amount arrest the boy. he has to administer this is the occupying authority and yet deeply conservative release was sent to the civil authorities. there is no justice for this group. the emblematic moment typifies a much larger story about the united states from the civil war to reconstruction. >> stain on the sub to, tell us about the german's reaction to the news that the holocaust and the way in which they knew it anyway come to the to which they dealt with this. >> yes. i was completely into what we're just hearing about.
it is a similar difference. what we have to think about is the deportation to the killing fields of the beast, and especially to death camps starts at the end of 1941 and takes place mainly in 1932. by the end of 1942, most of those who will be killed in the holocaust had been. the second wave of deportations in 1944 is almost a separate hall against. so what you have to think of is this happens in waves and it starts at the beginning of the work in the soviet union but these mobile killing squads behind the german lines, which collectively dispose the people
as genocidal and that is very important because the death camp are meant to be secret and of course they can't be, but the news leaks out. when people know immediately and the bystanders to take photographs of the mass shooting and hanging from burning and 39 and 40 and soviet territories and 41, 42 and 43. german is awash with private information. so every photograph which is taken to a family member, and takes it to a pharmacy where it developed it at a time a soldier at the front has gone through numerous and these things are not secret. what's interesting is the moment where people decide to talk about it in public. that is a key to get me to write
this book. they seem 43, of late july by the royal air force and it unleashes a firestorm of unprecedented -- >> a couple of weeks earlier the third event at this time as mussolini is supposed by the grand count on italy and the two events in italy and germany immediately put together and people start talking about the need for a change of regime. when you talk about it a year later, they scaled counterfactual case that if it happened in 43 during this huge
crisis, and might have had more traction. certainly appear to much people talk for four or five weeks open man german streets about the need to change the regime. they see the italian military to cater shut as a beacon of hope because what they want to do is to have a separate piece of british and american to win the war. they don't want to make peace with everybody. it's a practical solution. what emerges from this and this is how the holocaust comes up asked into public speech that people immediately talk about the bombing as retaliation for what we did and they do it not in a positive sense, the use of the subjunctive, what they say is if only we had not killed the jewish, and this would be
happening to us. the propaganda machine to somehow escalate things and make people feel comfortable in order to get their backs of water and make them hold out to the bitter end. people talk in public in exactly the opposite way. they make the same connection is somehow a disconnect it to the world's conspiracy, but they draw their own conclusion. they think if only we could get out of this. they only talk in public about the holocaust at this moment the great depression. so you can use them as a kind of thread going through public opinion, in the first cities to fall into a mac over 1944. again he expects to be punished. >> talking about drawing conclusions, tell us about some
of the conclusions that americans drove because they really were deep-seated and long-standing. >> indeed. they came to symbolize and a powerful way of the clash of conventional and unconventional warfare in america. americans indeed were still talking about the extent of in the years building up to the american revolution. rebels would often cite this battle is evidence the red coats could be beaten. they would overtly talk about the types attacked that the french and indian used to employ during the french and indian war. it also became a symbol of an emerging american identity.
the american provincial troops have behaved in a morgue discipline and more combat effective manner than the same british redcoats and for the americans, they also remember that they are kind of this hybrid force that can fight against the french and their returns. when tennis for them in the continental army in 1775, yes he very much wants a conventional army because he knows that is that so he will have to deal with is the british army. they have a type of hybrid army where he cooperated with the regulars. he consistently sought indian
allies and that was one of the americans that if this flexibility being able to fight conventionally but also unconventionally. >> it's not easy -- matthew, tell us about the conclusions that people drew from the fact that the first battle the americans thought was a victory. >> it was big news. this is surprised to allies. you happen to think this happened 13 month after america entered the war. >> that seems quite a long time for you to spend between declaring war and getting anybody fighting against the germans.
>> yes, it did take a long time. we entered the lord and our army at the time was roughly the size of romanian army. it is very small. just over 100,000 in uniform and in the short space if you think about the numbers of 18 months we had 2 million meant on the western front. >> relay. not politically, but militarily. it is a big deal to be able to solve the puzzle of being able to succeed on the western front. america had to be tutored by the allies in modern weaponry, modern artillery. many young men had never even seen an airplane and here they are fighting with his support for the first time. fighting with the support of tanks, airplanes. they have the first combined arms offenses and really the birth of our modern army. even though it was a small
operation, it was the first american impregnable armor of the western front. in the spring of 1918, this is the german defenses have begun. you can't exaggerate how close the allies came to be knocked out in march and april and again and may break before this, three waves of german defenses pushed the western front 40 miles west after three years for victory had been claimed over 100 to 500 yards. here they get pushed 40 miles. one mile through the village and an american in a sometimes pronounce one-mile as americans at the time and this is their first mile towards the jury by
than half that later. but it is a big deal here. >> is quite a debate about whether or not general john pershing, the american expeditionary first learned enough from the british and french, and he wanted to fight open warfare since the battle of 1914. what is your take on pershing and also how they were able to learn quicker than him? >> that's a big story back to general pershing's great credit to give a great deal of autonomy to his division commanders. the operational mobile units he placed on the front and general
bollard who commanded the first division decided to pay lipservice to general pershing on open warfare of the rifle man and his bayonet but was tutored and appreciated the knowledge that had been gained under fire by the french in particular on the importance of fire power and artillery. this is very much a trench warfare, western and operation. it was not open warfare. most of our successful operations followed the allies tactics that have been learned and tried and true up to that point. >> ladies and gentlemen, before i announce the winner of the prize, can you give a good round of applause for a speaker. [applause]
>> would like to remind everybody that there's going to be drinks that are raised in the foyer and without further ado, i would like to announce that the winner of the 2015 guggenheim $50,000 prize at the nadir of his surplus society is david preston. [applause] >> i'm truly speechless. let me begin by thanking the foundation and the new york historical society for administering this prize and all that it represents an authentic
endeavors to do for this debian military history. in a sense, this is a homecoming for this book. i also want to extend a very heartfelt thing to the gilder lehman institute of american history, which made possible a research fellowship year at this durable society as well as the public library that had a very profound effect on the project as it has unfolded. i would also like to extend my thanks to the very distinguished panel of judges and thank you for this distinguishing honor when i consider the distinguished military and academic perfection the careers of the judges, and i'm even more deeply humbled. when i consider my fellow finalist who in my mind are so deserving an equally if not more
deserving of this, i am also deeply humbled. i also want to recognize a very fine editorial staff, and my editor is here with us now and he had a huge hand on the project as well as david hackett fischer. finally, my family could not be here tonight, but i certainly want to thank and acknowledge them. my wife and also my three children, and vivian, nathaniel and alistair. thank you so much. [applause]
the mac we did that because they wanted to raise money. we thought they could go on and raise the additional money they needed to win. we were like little political venture capitalists. we were going to go out there. there is a kick starter for women. family since her early money is like yeast. they make the dough rise and we've been doing that ever since.