Thursday, November 11, was the 86th anniversary of Armistice Day. Neal Lavon, host of Press Conference USA, recently spoke with Jeff Shaara, author of To the Last Man: A Novel of World War I, about the American experience in the war.
Jeff Shaara says he wrote the book because he was surprised by his research into World War I – most especially that the Germans were winning the war before America’s entry. And he wanted to tell a personal story of the war from multiple points of view – for example, the German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen known as the “Red Baron,” America’s finest flying ace Raoul Lufberry who died in the war; the U.S. commander, General John Pershing, and a 20-year old U.S. Marine named Rosco Temple.
Mr. Shaara says he tried to capture the horror of 20th century warfare in Europe for the ordinary soldier – with its barbed wire, machine guns, and poison gas. After 1917, according to Jeff Shaara, the Americans began to dominate the war and thereby change the history of the world. At a critical point, the Germans were only 55 kilometers from Paris, and had it fallen, Mr. Shaara says, the war would have been effectively over. However, the U.S. Marines saved the city, but at an enormous cost to themselves during the three-week battle.
Jeff Shaara explains that General Pershing was not happy with the armistice following the war because the German Army was not forced to surrender, and that led to Germany’s rise 20 years later to provoke a Second World War. And in the emergence of Adolf Hitler on the political scene, Germans would find a voice to speak to their latent nationalistic impulses.
To listen to the full program on Press Conference USA Click here.