A Fraternity of Arms
America and France in the Great War
Robert B. Bruce
Winner: Norman B. Tomlinson Award
By the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States had already become an international power and a recognized force at sea, but its army remained little more than a frontier constabulary. In fact, when America finally entered World War I, the U.S. Army was still only a tenth the size of the smallest of the major European forces.
“Bruce’s book proves that there “was” a fraternity of arms that united France and the United States, and this relationship was critical in helping to determine the course of the First World War.”
—War in History
“Relations between the United States and France are currently at a low point,and not for the first time in the last eighty-five years. . . . Bruce provides a timely reminder that relations between the two countries were not always so strained. Indeed, during World War I, not only were the two nations close allies but their soldiers developed a genuine sense of fraternity as they fought side by side in the fields of France. . . . Bruce provides a fresh look at military relations between two allies fighting for a common cause. . . . Highly recommended to historians and general readers alike.”
—American Historical ReviewSee all reviews...
“A well-written account of the Franco-American military relationship that presents an affectionate and admiring portrait of France's wartime leaders. . . . Bruce helps modern readers rediscover just how high the stakes were in 1918 and appreciate anew an often-forgotten episode of Franco-American cooperation and goodwill.”
—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
“America and France are like twin sons of different mothers, sister republics separated by history, language, traditions, and culture. [These two timely works] recall poignantly some of the highs and lows of that challenging, perplexing, enduring relationship.”
—Journal of American History
“Bruce’s conclusion, that the combined Franco-American armies were 'instrumental' in achieving victory, implicitly challenges recent scholarship that has emphasized Britain’s role in Germany’s 1918 collapse.”
“A timely work in light of current strained relations between old friends, whose on-again-off-again alliance dates back to the American Revolution. A close reading of Bruce’s work helps explain why Franco-American national traits are at the same time complementary and corrosive.”
“A highly readable study that provides a definitive account of the contribution of the American Expeditionary Force to the defeat of German on the Western front in the First World War . . . The great merit of this book is that it both encompasses discussion of the politics and strategy of the war and recreates the experience of the men of the American Expeditionary Force.”
“This is good reading, with maybe some lessons to be learned for contemporary political leaders of democracies, especially when there still exists the common fraternity of arms between American and French soldiers today, exemplified in places like Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.”
“An insightful book that adds considerably to our understanding of the Great War and the significance of the Franco-American friendship. Bruce reminds us that neither the French nor the Americans could have succeeded in that war without the assistance of the other.”
—Robert Doughty, author of Seeds of Disaster: Development of French Army Doctrine, 1919–1939
“Engagingly written, Bruce’s study covers a lot of ground and presents a convincing thesis. His analysis of the crucial Franco-American military relationship should lead to a more complete and more sophisticated understanding of the ending of the war.”
—Leonard V. Smith, coauthor of France and the Great War, 1914–1918See fewer reviews...
While most previous work on America's participation in the Great War has focused on alliance with Great Britain, Robert Bruce argues that the impact of the Franco-American relationship was of far greater significance. He makes a convincing case that the French, rather than the British, were the main military partner of the United States in its brief but decisive participation in the war-and that France deserves much credit for America's emergence as a world military power.
In this important new look at the First World War, Bruce reveals how two countries established a close and respectful relationship-marking the first time since the American Revolution that the United States had waged war as a member of a military coalition. While General Pershing's American Expeditionary Forces did much to buoy French morale and military operations, France reciprocated by training over 80 percent of all American army divisions sent to Europe, providing most of their artillery and tanks, and even commanding them in combat.
As Bruce discloses, virtually every military engagement in which the AEF participated was a Franco-American operation. He provides significant new material on all major battles—not only the decisive Second Battle of the Marne, but also St. Mihiel, Cantigny, Reims, Soissons, and other engagements—detailing the key contributions of this coalition to the final defeat of Imperial Germany. Throughout the book, he also demonstrates that there was a mutual bond of affection not only between French and American soldiers but between the French and American people as well, with roots planted deep in the democratic ideal.
By revealing the overlooked importance of this crucial alliance, A Fraternity of Arms provides new insights not only into World War I but into coalition war-making as well. Contrary to the popular belief that relations between France and the United States have been tenuous or tendentious at best, Bruce reminds us that less than a century ago French and American soldiers fought side by side in a common cause—not just as allies and brothers-in-arms, but as true friends.