Photo: The Zimmermann Telegram was a secret diplomatic communication issued from the German Foreign Office in January 1917 that proposed a military alliance between Germany and Mexico. If the United States entered World War I against Germany, Mexico would recover Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Here: the original telegram.
Photo: The Telegram, completely decrypted and translated.
The decryption was described as the most significant intelligence triumph for Britain during World War I, and one of the earliest occasions on which a piece of signal intelligence influenced world events.
By the winter of 1916/17, World War I had reached a deadlock. While the Allies commanded greater resources and fielded more soldiers than the Central Powers, German armies had penetrated deep into Russia and France, and tenaciously held on to their conquered empire. Hoping to break the stalemate on the western front, the exhausted Allies sought to bring the neutral United States into the conflict.
A golden opportunity to force American intervention seemed at hand when British naval intelligence intercepted a secret telegram detailing a German alliance offer to Mexico. In it, Berlin’s foreign secretary, Arthur Zimmermann, offered his country’s support to Mexico for re-conquering “the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona” in exchange for a Mexican attack on the United States, should the latter enter the war on the side of the Allies. The British handed a copy of the Telegram to the American government, which in turn leaked it to the press. On March 1, 1917, the Telegram made headline news across the United States, and five weeks later, America entered World War I.
Based on an examination of virtually all available German, British, and U.S. government records, this book presents the definitive account of the Telegram and questions many traditional views on the origins, cryptanalysis, and impact of the German alliance scheme. While the Telegram has often been described as the final step in a carefully planned German strategy to gain a foothold in the western hemisphere, this book argues that the scheme was a spontaneous initiative by a minor German foreign office official, which gained traction only because of a lack of supervision and coordination at the top echelon of the German government. On the other hand, the book argues, American and British secret services had collaborated closely since 1915 to bring the United States into the war, and the Telegram’s interception and disclosure represented the crowning achievement of this clandestine Anglo-American intelligence alliance. Moreover, the book explicitly challenges the widely accepted notion that the Telegram’s publication in the U.S. press rallied Americans for war. Instead, it contends that the Telegram divided the public by poisoning the debate over intervention, and by failing to offer peace-minded Americans a convincing rationale for supporting the war. The book also examines the Telegram’s effect on the memory of World War I through the twentieth century and beyond.
The Treaty of Paris in 1783 formally ended the American Revolutionary War, but it was the pivotal campaigns and battles of 1781 that decided the final outcome. 1781 was one of those rare years in American history when the future of the nation hung by a thread, and only the fortitude, determination, and sacrifice of its leaders and citizenry ensured its survival. By 1781, America had been at war with the world's strongest empire for six years with no end in sight. British troops occupied key coastal cities, from New York to Savannah, and the Royal Navy prowled the waters off the American coast. The remaining Patriot forces hunkered down in the hinterland, giving battle only at opportunities when British columns ventured near. But after several harsh winters, and the failure of the nascent government to adequately supply the troops, the American army was fast approaching the breaking point. The number of Continental soldiers had shrunk to less than 10,000, and the three-year enlistments of many of those remaining were about to expire. Mutinies began to emerge in Continental Army's ranks, and it was only the arrival of French troops that provided a ray of hope for the American cause.
In a shift of strategy given the stalemate between New York and Philadelphia, the British began to prioritize the south. After shattering the American army under Horatio Gates at Camden, South Carolina, the British army under Lord Cornwallis appeared unstoppable, and was poised to regain the Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia for the Crown. However, when General Nathaniel Greene arrived to take command of Patriot forces in the south, he was able to gradually turn the tables. By dividing his own forces, he forced the British to divide theirs, dissipating their juggernaut and forcing Cornwallis to confront a veritable hydra of resistance.
1781 was a year of battles, as the Patriot Morgan defeated the notorious Tarleton and his Loyal legion at Cowpens. Then Greene suffered defeat at Guilford Courthouse, only to rally his forces and continue to fight on, assisted by such luminaries as Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox," and "Light Horse Harry" Lee. While luring Cornwallis north, Greene was able to gather new strength and launch a counterattack, until it was Cornwallis who felt compelled to seek succor in Virginia. He marched his main army to Yorktown on the Peninsula, upon which the the combined American and French armies under the command of General Washington, and Admiral DeGrasse's French fleet all converged. On October 19, 1781, Cornwallis surrendered his weary and bloodied army.
In this book, Robert Tonsetic provides a detailed analysis of the key battles and campaigns of 1781, supported by numerous eyewitness accounts from privates to generals in the American, French, and British armies. He also describes the diplomatic efforts underway in Europe during 1781, as well as the Continental Congress's actions to resolve the immense financial, supply, and personnel problems involved in maintaining an effective fighting army in the field. With its focus on the climactic year of the war, 1781 is a valuable addition to the literature on the American Revolution, providing readers with a clearer understanding of how America, just barely, with fortitude and courage, retrieved its independence in the face of great odds.
Pulitzer Prize Finalist in History
Winner of the Journal of the American Revolution 2016 Book of the Year Award
The remarkable untold story of how the American Revolution's success depended on substantial military assistance provided by France and Spain, and places the Revolution in the context of the global strategic interests of those nations in their fight against England.
In this groundbreaking, revisionist history, Larrie Ferreiro shows that at the time the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord the colonists had little chance, if any, of militarily defeating the British. The nascent American nation had no navy, little in the way of artillery, and a militia bereft even of gunpowder. In his detailed accounts Ferreiro shows that without the extensive military and financial support of the French and Spanish, the American cause would never have succeeded. France and Spain provided close to the equivalent of $30 billion and 90 percent of all guns used by the Americans, and they sent soldiers and sailors by the thousands to fight and die alongside the Americans, as well as around the world.
Ferreiro adds to the historical records the names of French and Spanish diplomats, merchants, soldiers, and sailors whose contribution is at last given recognition. Instead of viewing the American Revolution in isolation, Brothers at Arms reveals the birth of the American nation as the centerpiece of an international coalition fighting against a common enemy.
Two years before the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki helped bring a quick end to hostilities in the summer of 1945, U.S. planners began work on Operation Downfall, codename for the Allied invasions of Kyushu and Honshu, in the Japanese home islands. While other books have examined Operation Downfall, D. M. Giangreco offers the most complete and exhaustively researched consideration of the plans and their implications. He explores related issues of the first operational use of the atomic bomb and the Soviet Union’s entry into the war, including the controversy surrounding estimates of potential U.S. casualties.Following years of intense research at numerous archives, Giangreco now paints a convincing and horrific picture of the veritable hell that awaited invader and defender. In the process, he demolishes the myths that Japan was trying to surrender during the summer of 1945 and that U.S. officials later wildly exaggerated casualty figures to justify using the atomic bombs to influence the Soviet Union. As Giangreco writes, “Both sides were rushing headlong toward a disastrous confrontation in the Home Islands in which poison gas and atomic weapons were to be employed as MacArthur’s intelligence chief, Charles Willoughby, succinctly put it, ‘a hard and bitter struggle with no quarter asked or given.’”Hell to Pay examines the invasion of Japan in light of the large body of Japanese and American operational and tactical planning documents the author unearthed in familiar and obscure archives. It includes postwar interrogations and reports that senior Japanese commanders and their staffs were ordered to produce for General MacArthur’s headquarters. This groundbreaking history counters the revisionist interpretations questioning the rationale for the use of the atomic bomb and shows that President Truman’s decision was based on real estimates of the enormous human cost of a conventional invasion.This revised edition of Hell to Pay expands on several areas covered in the previous book and deals with three new topics: U.S.-Soviet cooperation in the war against Imperial Japan; U.S., Soviet, and Japanese plans for the invasion and defense of the northernmost Home Island of Hokkaido; and Operation Blacklist, the three-phase insertion of American occupation forces into Japan. It also contains additional text, relevant archival material, supplemental photos, and new maps, making this the definitive edition of an important historical work.
Winner of the 2014 PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for the Best Work of History. "If you only read one book about the First World War in this anniversary year, read The Long Shadow. David Reynolds writes superbly and his analysis is compelling and original." —Anne Chisolm, Chair of the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize Committee, and Chair of the Royal Society of Literature.
One of the most violent conflicts in the history of civilization, World War I has been strangely forgotten in American culture. It has become a ghostly war fought in a haze of memory, often seen merely as a distant preamble to World War II. In The Long Shadow critically acclaimed historian David Reynolds seeks to broaden our vision by assessing the impact of the Great War across the twentieth century. He shows how events in that turbulent century—particularly World War II, the Cold War, and the collapse of Communism—shaped and reshaped attitudes to 1914–18.
By exploring big themes such as democracy and empire, nationalism and capitalism, as well as art and poetry, The Long Shadow is stunningly broad in its historical perspective. Reynolds throws light on the vast expanse of the last century and explains why 1914–18 is a conflict that America is still struggling to comprehend. Forging connections between people, places, and ideas, The Long Shadow ventures across the traditional subcultures of historical scholarship to offer a rich and layered examination not only of politics, diplomacy, and security but also of economics, art, and literature. The result is a magisterial reinterpretation of the place of the Great War in modern history.
The Austro-Hungarian army that marched east and south to confront the Russians and Serbs in the opening campaigns of World War I had a glorious past but a pitiful present. Speaking a mystifying array of languages and lugging outdated weapons, the Austrian troops were hopelessly unprepared for the industrialized warfare that would shortly consume Europe.
As the prizewinning historian Geoffrey Wawro explains in A Mad Catastrophe, the doomed Austrian conscripts were an unfortunate microcosm of the Austro-Hungarian Empire itself—both equally ripe for destruction. After the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914, Germany goaded the Empire into a war with Russia and Serbia. With the Germans massing their forces in the west to engage the French and the British, everything—the course of the war and the fate of empires and alliances from Constantinople to London—hinged on the Habsburgs' ability to crush Serbia and keep the Russians at bay. However, Austria-Hungary had been rotting from within for years, hollowed out by repression, cynicism, and corruption at the highest levels. Commanded by a dying emperor, Franz Joseph I, and a querulous celebrity general, Conrad von Handorf, the Austro-Hungarians managed to bungle everything: their ultimatum to the Serbs, their declarations of war, their mobilization, and the pivotal battles in Galicia and Serbia. By the end of 1914, the Habsburg army lay in ruins and the outcome of the war seemed all but decided.
Drawing on deep archival research, Wawro charts the decline of the Empire before the war and reconstructs the great battles in the east and the Balkans in thrilling and tragic detail. A Mad Catastrophe is a riveting account of a neglected face of World War I, revealing how a once-mighty empire collapsed in the trenches of Serbia and the Eastern Front, changing the course of European history.
This is the story of a little-known Soviet-Japanese conflict that influenced the outbreak and shaped the course of the Second World War. In the summers of 1937, 1938, and 1939, Japan and the Soviet Union fought a series of border conflicts. The first was on the Amur River days before the outbreak of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War. In 1938, division-strength units fought a bloody 2-week battle at Changkufeng near the Korea-Manchuria-Soviet border. The Nomonhan conflict (May-September 1939) on the Manchurian-Mongolian frontier, was a small undeclared war, with over 100,000 troops, 500 tanks and aircraft, and 30,000-50,000 killed and wounded. In the climactic battle, August 20-31, the Japanese were annihilated. This coincided precisely with the conclusion of the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact (August 23, 1939) – the green light to Hitler's invasion of Poland and the outbreak of WW II one week later. These events are connected. This book relates these developments and weaves them together.
From May through July 1939, the conflict was provoked and escalated by the Japanese, whose assaults were repulsed by the Red Army. In August, Stalin unleashed a simultaneous military and diplomatic counter strike. Zhukov, the Soviet commander, launched an offensive that crushed the Japanese. At the same time, Stalin concluded an alliance with Hitler, Japan's nominal ally, leaving Tokyo diplomatically isolated and militarily humiliated.
The fact that these events coincided was no “coincidence.” Europe was sliding toward war as Hitler prepared to attack Poland. Stalin sought to avoid a two-front war against Germany and Japan. His ideal outcome would be for the fascist/militarist capitalists (Germany, Italy, and Japan) to fight the bourgeois/democratic capitalists (Britain, France, and perhaps the United States), leaving the Soviet Union on the sidelines while the capitalists exhausted themselves. The Nazi-Soviet Pact pitted Germany against Britain and France and allowed Stalin to deal decisively with an isolated Japan, which he did at Nomonhan.
Zhukov won his spurs at Nomonhan and won Stalin’s confidence to entrust him with the high command in 1941, when he halted the Germans at the gates of Moscow with reinforcements from the Soviet Far East. The Far Eastern reserves were deployed westward in the autumn of 1941 when Moscow learned that Japan would not attack the Soviet Far East, because it decided to expand southward to seize the oil-rich Dutch East Indies, which led them to attack Pearl Harbor.
The notorious Japanese officer, TSUJI Masanobu, who played a central role at Nomonhan, was an important figure in the decision to attack Pearl Harbor. In 1941, Col. Tsuji was a staff officer at Imperial General HQ. Because of the U.S. oil embargo on Japan, the Imperial Navy wanted to seize the Dutch East Indies. Only the U.S. Pacific Fleet stood in the way. Some army leaders, however, wanted to attack the U.S.S.R., avenging the defeat at Nomonhan while the Red Army was being smashed by the German blitzkreig. Tsuji, an influencial leader, backed the Navy position that led to Pearl Harbor. According to senior Japanese officials, Tsuji was the most influential Army advocate of war with the United States. Tsuji later wrote that his experience of Soviet fire-power at Nomonhan convinced him not to take on the Russians in 1941
In the late summer of 1918, after four long years of senseless, stagnant fighting, the Western Front erupted. The bitter four-month struggle that ensued—known as the Hundred Days Campaign—saw some of the bloodiest and most ferocious combat of the Great War, as the Allies grimly worked to break the stalemate in the west and end the conflict that had ravaged and almost wiped out Europe.
In Hundred Days, the acclaimed military historian Nick Lloyd leads readers into the endgame of World War I, showing how the timely arrival of American men and materiel—as well as the bravery of French, British, and Commonwealth soldiers—helped to turn the tide on the Western Front. Many of these battle-hardened troops had endured years of terror in the trenches, clinging to their resolve through poison-gas attacks and fruitless assaults across no-man's land. Finally, in July 1918, they and their American allies did the impossible: they returned movement to the western theater. Using surprise attacks, innovative artillery tactics, and swarms of tanks and aircraft, they pushed the Germans out of their trenches and forced them back to their final bastion: the Hindenburg Line, a formidable network of dugouts, barbed wire, and pillboxes. After a massive assault, the Allies broke through, racing toward the Rhine and forcing Kaiser Wilhelm II to sue for peace.
An epic tale ranging from the ravaged fields of Flanders to the revolutionary streets of Berlin, Hundred Days recalls the bravery and sacrifice that finally silenced the guns of Europe.
In this prequel to the now-classic Makers of Modern Strategy, Victor Davis Hanson, a leading scholar of ancient military history, gathers prominent thinkers to explore key facets of warfare, strategy, and foreign policy in the Greco-Roman world. From the Persian Wars to the final defense of the Roman Empire, Makers of Ancient Strategy demonstrates that the military thinking and policies of the ancient Greeks and Romans remain surprisingly relevant for understanding conflict in the modern world.
The book reveals that much of the organized violence witnessed today—such as counterterrorism, urban fighting, insurgencies, preemptive war, and ethnic cleansing—has ample precedent in the classical era. The book examines the preemption and unilateralism used to instill democracy during Epaminondas's great invasion of the Peloponnesus in 369 BC, as well as the counterinsurgency and terrorism that characterized Rome's battles with insurgents such as Spartacus, Mithridates, and the Cilician pirates. The collection looks at the urban warfare that became increasingly common as more battles were fought within city walls, and follows the careful tactical strategies of statesmen as diverse as Pericles, Demosthenes, Alexander, Pyrrhus, Caesar, and Augustus. Makers of Ancient Strategy shows how Greco-Roman history sheds light on wars of every age. In addition to the editor, the contributors are David L. Berkey, Adrian Goldsworthy, Peter J. Heather, Tom Holland, Donald Kagan, John W. I. Lee, Susan Mattern, Barry Strauss, and Ian Worthington.
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When the Roman historian Tacitus wrote the Germania, a none-too-flattering little book about the ancient Germans, he could not have foreseen that centuries later the Nazis would extol it as "a bible" and vow to resurrect Germany on its grounds. But the Germania inspired—and polarized—readers long before the rise of the Third Reich. In this elegant and captivating history, Christopher B. Krebs, a professor of classics at Harvard University, traces the wide-ranging influence of the Germania, revealing how an ancient text rose to take its place among the most dangerous books in the world.