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 Review
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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.

About the Author

Robert B. Bruce is assistant professor of history at Sam Houston State University.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series