The title is slightly misleading. “The Doughboys” should be dropped as the more appropriate title is the subtitle “America and the First World War”. If the reader is looking for a day-to-day account of the American doughboy, this book isn’t it, but if you are looking for a detailed account of the roll America played in the great war, this book covers a tremendous amount of information.
There are certain portions of text devoted to the doughboys. For instance, 3 of the books 400 plus pages of text, tell of the heroics of Alvin York. Another 5 pages tell of Maj. Whittsley and the 77th Division, now known as the “Lost Battalion”. But you will find little detail of the rigors endured by the American doughboy.
Just like the American involvement in the war, this book is painfully slow to get started. The first 100 pages seem to dredge at times as Mead’s focus is on other aspects of war, such as financial backing from American bankers such as J.P. Morgan. Most of the next 50 or so pages address the logistical difficulties faced by Pershing in moving the massive numbers of troops into the campaign.
It is rather fitting and apropos that Mead, an Englishman, has so precisely outlined the American role in the war. Europeans yet today, tend to downplay the American roll, primarily because our casualties, though numerous, paled in comparison to the French and British losses, and our involvement came after several years of conflict, but Mead puts the importance of the American roll into its proper perspective. Mead clearly delineates that it was America’s entrance into the fray that turned the tide on the Hun once and for all.
This is a very good book, loaded with factual accounts and statistics, but it is not an in-depth look at the Doughboys. Perhaps the book could have been more entertaining, but I cannot discredit the historical accuracy nor the volume of information contained here. If you seek a good account of American involvement in the war, this is the book for you.