The Big Red One
America's Legendary 1st Infantry Division
Centennial Edition, 1917-2017
Modern War Studies
Sales Date: June 16, 2017
704 Pages, 6.13 x 9.25 in
- Published: June 2017
- Published: June 2017
“No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great— Duty First!” For a century, from the Western Front of World War I to the wars of the 21st century, this motto has spurred the soldiers who wear the shoulder patch bearing the Big Red One. In this comprehensive history of America’s 1st Infantry Division, James Scott Wheeler chronicles its major combat engagements and peacetime duties during its legendary service to the nation. The Centennial Edition adds new chapters on peacekeeping missions in the Balkans (1995–2004) and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (2001–2017), along with a new introduction and conclusion.
The oldest continuously serving division in the U.S. Army, the “Fighting First” has consistently played a crucial role in America’s foreign wars. It was the first American division to see combat and achieve victory in World War I. One of the few intact divisions between the wars, it was the first army unit to train for amphibious warfare. During World War II, the First Division spearheaded the invasions of North Africa and Sicily before leading the Normandy invasion at Omaha Beach and fighting on deep into Germany. By war’s end, it had developed successful combined-arms, regimental combat teams and made advances in night operations.
Wheeler describes the First Division’s critical role in postwar Germany and as the only combat division in Europe during the early Cold War. The division fought valiantly in Vietnam for five trying years while pioneering “air-mobile” operations. It led the liberation of Kuwait in Desert Storm. Along the way, Wheeler illuminates the division’s organizational evolution, its consistently remarkable commanders and leaders, and its equally remarkable soldiers.
Meticulously detailed and engagingly written, The Big Red One nimbly combines historical narrative with astute analysis of the unit’s successes and failures, so that its story reflects the larger chronicle of America’s military experience over the past century.
Published in collaboration with the Cantigny First Division Foundation and the Cantigny Military History Series, edited by Paul H. Herbert.
"This comprehensive and well-researched book is a welcome addition to military history and exemplifies one of the most storied divisions in U.S. military history."—Kansas History
“An exceptionally fine work of scholarship, written with a storyteller’s verve. The Big Red One is not just a vivid account of the nation’s most venerable division, but a compelling yarn for anyone interested in the history of the U.S. Army.”—Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn and In the Company of Soldiers
“A rousing battle history of the Army's most renowned major combat unit and the best history to date of any of the Army’s active duty combat divisions.”—Michael D. Doubler, author of Closing with the Enemy: How GIs Fought the War in Europe, 1944–1945
“A significant and unusually lucid contribution to military history.”—Jonathan A. House, author of Combined Arms Warfare in the Twentieth Century
List of Illustrations
Foreword by Paul H. Herbert
1. Lafayette, We Are Here: Creation of the 1st Infantry Division
2. Cantigny to Soissons
3. Victory in Alsace-Lorraine: St. Mihiel and the Meuse Agonne
4. Between the World Wars: The Twenty-Year Peace
5. Mobilization for War: The Expansion and Training of the Big Red One, 1939 to November 1942
6. Tunisia: The Division Comes of Age
7. Offensive Operations: Gafsa to Victory in Africa
8. The Invasion of Sicily
9. Operation Overlord
10. Crusade in Europe: The Drive to Germany
11. Battles of the German Frontier
12. The Last Offensive against Germany: January to May 1945
13. The Occupation of Germany and the Cold War
14. The Vietnam War and the Big Red One: Deployment and First Battles
15. The Year of Decision? The 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam, 1967
16. Tet and the Light at the End of the Tunnel
17. The Cold War to Desert Storm
18. New Mission: Peacekeeping in the Balkans
19. Global Mission: The War on Terror
Conclusion: The Long War Continues