Through the Wheat

The U.S. Marines in World War I
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Binding:Paperback
Published:September 15, 2011

One of the great defining moments in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps was their participation in World War I.  These two highly regarded historians, recount this experience in great detail, capturing the spirit that earned the WWI Marines the sobriquet "Devil dogs," while providing an important combat study of the conflict. Names like Belleau Wood, Soissons, and St. U.S. Marine participation in World War I is known as a defining moment in the Marine Corps' great history. It is a story of exceptional heroism and significant operational achievements, along with lessons learned the hard way. The Marines entered World War I as a small force of seagoing light infantry that had rarely faced a well-armed enemy.

On a single June day, in their initial assault "through the wheat" on Belleau Wood against German machine-guns and poison gas shells, the Marines suffered more casualties than they had experienced in all their previous 142 years. Yet at Belleau Wood, Soissons, BlancMont, St. Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne the Marines proved themselves to be hard-nosed diehards with an affinity for close combat. Nearly a century later Belleau Wood still resonates as a touchstone battle of the Corps. Two retired Marines, well known for their achievements both in uniform and with the pen, have recorded this rich history in a way that only insiders can.

Brig. Gen. Edwin H. Simmons and Col. Joseph H. Alexander recount events and colorful personalities in telling detail, capturing the spirit that earned the 4th Marine Brigade three awards of the French Croix de Guerre and launched the first pioneering detachments of "Flying Leathernecks." Here, hand-to-hand combat seen through the lenses of a gas mask is accompanied by thought-provoking assessments of the war's impact on the Marine Corps.

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Product Details
  • Subject: World War I
  • Paperback : 352 pages
  • Illustrations: 29 b/w photos; 14 maps
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (September 15, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1591148316
  • ISBN-13: 9781591148319
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 16.8 oz

Brig. Gen. Edwin Howard Simmons, USMC (Ret.) served in the Marine Corps for thirty-six years, from 1942 to 1978, and is a decorated veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He also served the Corps for seventeen years as a civilian, including many years as Director of Marine Corps History and Museums. He is the author of the Korean War novel Dog Company Six, The United States Marines: A History, and Frozen Choisin: U.S. Marines at the Changjin Reservoir, among other publications. He died in May 2007.

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Joseph Alexander was a retired colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps, with 29 years’ service as an assault amphibian officer. He commanded a company in Vietnam, served five years at sea with amphibious task forces, and graduated with distinction from the Naval War College. Prior to retirement he served as chief of staff of the 3d Marine Division in the western Pacific.

Alexander wrote six books, including Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa; The Battle History of the U.S. Marines; and Edson’s Raiders: The 1st Marine Raider Battalion in World War II. He was Naval Institute Author of the Year in 1996 and Naval History Author of the Year in 2010. He served as scriptwriter and on-screen authority for 28 military documentaries for cable television networks. He was the principal historian and writer on the exhibit design team for the construction and expansion of the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

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