WWI Further Reading
The following annotated bibliography is not comprehensive, nor confined solely to literature related to chemical warfare and/or the AEF. Rather, it is a guide for those interested in further exploring the topics covered in Rexmond Cochrane’s work and some of the articles on this website.
This bibliography covers a wide variety of sources including official histories, firsthand accounts, and some recent scholarship on a variety of topics related to the First World War, chemical warfare history, and the American Expeditionary Force. Readers and scholars can offer their own additions, comments, and criticisms of this list at CBRNPro.net, by contacting the editor directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: The opinions expressed regarding these works are those of Bradley Trefz and CBRNPro.net. Use of this list for the purposes of academic research does not include copying, plagiarism, or reprinting without permission of the author and CBRNPro.net. Violators may face legal consequences. If you take issue with anything written below, or would like to contribute to expanding it, please contact Brad Trefz at email@example.com.
American Battle Monuments Commission. 1944. 2nd Division Summary of Operations in the World War. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office.
Part of the US “Official History” of the war, this narrative offers a straight forward history of the 2nd Division from formation through occupation duty in 1919, based on official records and original documents.
Auld, S. J. M. 1918. Gas and Flame in Modern Warfare, By Major S. J. M. Auld; Frontispiece by W. G. Thayer. New York: George H. Doran Company.
Published during the war, when Auld was the British Advisor to the Chemical Warfare Service in the United States, this work is a collection of eclectic lectures describing Auld’s experience with the British Chemical Regiment from 1915 to 1917. The author’s purpose was to educate American Chemical Officers on chemical warfare on the Western Front over the previous 2 years. Unfortunately, his experience was out of date compared to what was then happening on the Western Front and may have led to the American’s over-emphasis on preparing for cloud attacks when the preferred method by 1917-1918 was artillery fire.
Bailey, Don W. 1992. Poisonous Gas and the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I: Is It Still 1918?. Fort Leavenworth, KS: School of Advanced Military Studies.
A monograph examining the uses and effects of chemical weapons used on American units in the First World War. Bailey compares US Army doctrine and technology available in 1992 to those available and used by the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) during the war. This account explores the development and use of gas during WWI, specifically examining five case studies representing the offensive and defensive use of gas as experienced by AEF units. The author examines each case using the battlefield operating systems (BOS) methodology, producing lessons learned. Bailey was one of the first to revisit the works of Rexmond Cochrane since Heller in 1984 and benefited from the use of Heller’s sources which, per Bailey, were still in the boxes Heller left them in at Leavenworth.
Bond, Brian. 1991. The First World War and British Military History. New York: Oxford University Press.
_____. 2014. Britain’s Two World Wars Against Germany: Myth, Memory, and the Distortions of Hindsight. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
____. 2007. The Unquiet Western Front: Britain’s Role in Literature and History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
The Great War looms large in the British psyche. Abundant literature discusses the way German generals contributed to the development of the myth about German defeat, also known as the “stab-in-the-back” theory. Others discuss the mythology of the war in broader terms, including works listed below by Jay Winter and Paul Fussell. German inter-war historiography had no credibility after the Second World War, but the British mythology lives on. Most accounts of the war in English are from the British perspective and while American and French scholars have long challenged the British narrative, especially its official history, British myth making still heavily influences popular literature and perceptions of the war.
The British-centric view of the war usually ignores the French (who did most of the fighting), denigrates the Americans (who helped win the war), and portrays the war as confined to the mud and blood of Ypres and the waves of Jutland. British accounts often confine the ANZAC experience to the events at Gallipoli, and the significant contribution of Indian forces always gets short shrift, if any mention at all. In the British mind, the war is all about the disastrous Somme campaign, which is a key component of the anti-Haig debate (a debate that was itself a British reaction to the official history). Haig’s opponents, the original being Churchill, see the war not as glorious, but of “men led by donkeys.” British notions of the war are divergent, either a senseless tragedy or brutal glory, but neither tends to reflect the war’s reality, in the broader sense. The mud of Ypres and the horrors of the Somme tend to overshadow everything, in the way Verdun can sometimes dominate French views of the war as a sort of “Moloch.” Such portrayals often portray events out of proportion to the broader war’s realities.
British conceptions heavily influence American perceptions of the war, to the extent Americans have any. Few British scholars have been so daring as Bond to challenge the traditional British narrative. Those that do, tend to ignite fury among a small army of amateur and arm-chair historians that form a cottage industry in Britain dedicated to polishing the war’s mythology. These traditionalists do not take kindly to anyone who might dissuade them.
Despite his critics, Bond’s historiography is an important and detailed analysis of the Haig/Anti-Haig debate and the way the British Army shaped its own portrayal after the war. While Bond does not address it fully, that effort included heavily discounting the role played by chemical warfare despite the evidence (in the British Archives) to the contrary.
Bonk, David. 2007. Chateau Thierry & Belleau Wood 1918: America’s Baptism of Fire on the Marne. Campaign Series. New York: Osprey.
This “Osprey” treatment of the Chateau Thierry and Belleau Wood battles offers an overview of the Campaign with lots of graphics and maps. Unfortunately, the narrative is severely lacking in that it fails to fully account for the significant role chemical weapons played during the battle, though it certainly mentions them, an improvement over some other works on the topic.
Braim, Paul F. 1998. The Test of Battle: The American Expeditionary Forces in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, 2nd Edition. Shippensburg, Pennsylvania: White Mane Publishing Company.
_____. 1987. The Test of Battle: The American Expeditionary Forces in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, 1st Edition. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press.
Paul F. Braim was a combat veteran of three wars, enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1943 at the age of 17. He fought in Europe in the Battle of the Bulge, before earning his commission and serving as a company commander during the Korean War, during which he survived the retreat from the Chosin Reservoir. Braim served four tours in Vietnam, including command of the 1st Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division, and served as senior military advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam under General Fred Weyland. He remained in Vietnam after the withdrawal of American troops in 1973, leading the US Support Command for Southeast Asia until 1975 and was one of the very last American military officers to leave Saigon. Retiring in 1977, he earned his PhD from the University of Delaware in 1983 and became a professor at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and a lecturer at the US Army War College. Academically, he is best known for his biography of James A. Van Fleet, considered the definitive work on the subject. He died in 2001.
When he wrote the first edition of The Test of Battle, Braim was a newly minted academic writing a book based on his thesis research. As he admitted in the foreword to his second edition, discussions with non-military scholars later moderated the views expressed in his original book, and the second edition is fundamentally a different book from the first. The first edition was much harsher in its judgment of the AEF and its battlefield performance than the second edition, reflecting Braim’s outlook as one of the better military officers his nation produced. His academic viewpoint some years later was less “black and white,” and that is clear in his second version of the book.
While harder to find, and long out of print, the first edition of the book is arguably the better written of the two. The second, while closer to consensus opinion among military historians and benefiting from further research, moderates the insights of a supremely qualified and experienced military officer whose arguments were more convincing in the first edition. Further, the second edition suffers from a lack of quality editing. The two books, taken together, are better than either on their own, and are best read as the bookends of the military and academic career that they represent.
Brophy, Leo P., Wyndham D. Miles, and Rexmond C. Cochrane. 1959. The Chemical Warfare Service: From Laboratory to Field, United States Army in World War II: The Technical Services (Series). Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army.
The only one of the three official history volumes on American Chemical Warfare units and operations in the United States in the Second World War that incorporates research and analysis of the First World War and the Chemical Warfare Service between the wars. Organized thematically, it incorporates the earlier period throughout, showing the early years and the progression of the Chemical Services development before and during World War II.
Bruchmüller, Georg. 1922. Deutsche Artillerie in den Durchbruch schlachten des Weltkrieges. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Library.
No other individual, except Fritz Haber, had greater impact on the development of chemical warfare than Georg Bruchmüller. This work (in German) outlines Bruchmüller’s creation and employment of new artillery tactics, under Oskar von Hutier. Bruchmüller used these tactics first on the eastern front in the final offensives against the Russians, and later in the Ludendorff Spring Offensives of 1918. His tactics advocated a short artillery bombardment, featuring heavy shells mixed with numerous chemical weapons projectiles, followed by a creeping barrage under which Stoßtruppen moved forward, in dispersed order, avoiding direct combat whenever possible. These assault troops infiltrated defenses at weak points, seeking to destroy or capture enemy headquarters and artillery strongpoints while follow on forces assaulted on a narrow front in their wake, spreading out and surrounding pockets of resistance, eliminated later.
Collectively known as Hutier tactics, Bruchmüller’s contribution to the new method of operations was the role of artillery, specifically the heavy use of green/blue cross chemical shells in the assault zone to button up and weaken front line forces while sealing the flanks of the assault with mustard agent in large quantity. Bruchmüller also advocated the use of gas in “squares,” heavy bombardments of key enemy positions using high concentrations of chemical shell to hinder the concentration of reserve forces for counter-attack and suppress counter-battery fire. The success of these tactics broke the “deadlock” of the Western Front of 1915 and 1917, and returned a semblance of open warfare to the front in 1918. They also played a key role in the defeat of the Russians in 1917.
Burton, Allan or John Archer Lejeune. 1919. A History of the Second Regiment of Engineers, United States Army: From Its Organization in Mexico 1916 to Its Watch on the Rhine 1919. Cologne, Germany: M. DuMont Scuberg.
Published in Germany during the occupation, this is the typical “post-war” treatment published by units themselves, and hastily written before demobilization. While breezy in nature, such histories, which bear significant resemblance to those composed by units after the American Civil War, offer insight into the men and experiences of the units in question and frequently contain information not available in other sources.
Churchill, Winston. 1923. The World Crisis. 5 Vols. New York: Scribner's.
Churchill’s extensive history of the First World War and his own involvement in it, despite Churchill’s obfuscations and dissembling, is the beginning of any examination of British chemical warfare and later debates regarding casualty counts and the “blood test.” Churchill was the foremost advocate for new weapons within the British government, including chemical warfare. First at the Admiralty, and later in various ministries, including Armaments and Industry, he supported research and development of both British chemical weapons and systems like the tank, which the Army eschewed.
Churchill’s history of self-aggrandizement and “archive editing” includes his descriptions of early tests of chemical weapons by the Admiralty (prior to German use in April 1915), which are disingenuous and not always aligned with the historical record available in the British National Archives.
Churchill was the first to propose the idea of the “Blood Test,” noting disparities between Allied and German casualty figures that suggested the Germans suffered fewer casualties than they inflicted. This became an important argument among the “anti-Haig” members of the British government during and after the war. British history of the war tends to be narrow and parochial and divides into two camps – those who see Haig in the way the Official History portrayed him and those who see him as an incompetent butcher. Churchill was a founding member of the latter camp.
Clark, George B. 2013. The American Expeditionary Force in World War I: A Statistical History, 1917-1919. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.
An idiosyncratic collection of various statistics about the AEF during the war, this volume contains a variety of useful information in readily accessible format, culled from original and secondary sources. The accompanying narrative is a very basic overview, and lacks any analysis or evaluation. The book is useful as a reference, though it suffers from a variety of significant omissions, including many of those related to chemical warfare. Its narrative (unlike many others) does mention the heavy toll exacted by German chemical weapons on the AEF, though it makes little to no mention of American offensive use or production of chemical weapons.
Cochrane, Rexmond C. 1957-1960. U.S. Army Chemical Corps Historical Studies: Gas Warfare in World War I (Series). Washington, DC: U.S. Army Chemical Corps Historical Office, Office of the Chief Chemical Officer.
Cochrane, a contracted government historian, prepared a collection of 20 case studies between 1957 and 1960 examining major uses of chemical warfare in World War I by and against the American Expeditionary Forces. The original drafts, freely available online, will be republished in the coming years by CBRNPro.net in new updated editions. These case studies are the only publicly available studies of their kind available for any combatant in the First World War. They are based almost entirely on primary documents, which remain in the Army’s collection at Carlisle Barracks and in the National Archives in Maryland. As such, they remain a highly valuable resource, both for those examining the AEF experience and history, and all combatants in 1918.
Coleman, Kim. 2005. A History of Chemical Warfare. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Coleman’s problematic work is a broad but brief attempt at a scholarly examination of chemical warfare that contains enough factual and technical errors to send specialists to the nearest wall banging their head and cursing loudly. Coleman is usually broad in scope, but spends the bulk of the book on the First World War. The prose is dense, its treatment inaccurate, and its conclusions and discussions discounted by its many clear errors, to include several inaccurate, and possibly falsified, citations. The book is an improperly vetted master’s thesis that should never have seen publication. Readers should either avoid it or treat all its information as suspect until otherwise verified.
Cooke, James J. 1997. Pershing and His Generals: Command and Staff in the AEF. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger.
In addition to his day job as a professor of history at the University of Mississippi, Cooke was a Mississippi National Guard Officer, who served as a liaison between the 18th Airborne Corps and the Saudi and French Armies during the First Gulf War. That experience (as a professional staff officer) defined his later approach to history, evidenced in this brief work, where he examines the AEF command and staff through the lens of professional experience. Unfortunately, as reviewers note, the book suffers from several factual errors and basic mistakes, and did not make significant use of the many original documents one might have considered essential to his topic, drawing instead from secondary sources.
In part, this may have been due to the speed with which Cooke tended to publish (four books in four years between 1993 and 1997). Yet, Cooke’s insights are still valuable, and his work is one of only a few to address the topic of how the AEF functioned at its highest level, as a staff. That said, it must be read carefully and understood in a broader context. Readers should read reviews of Cooke’s work alongside the work itself, so that they can more easily identify some of the mistakes and errors contained within this book.
Evans, Henry C. 2015. Over There with the AEF: The World War I Memoirs of Captain Henry C. Evans, 1st Division, American Expeditionary Forces. Fort Leavenworth: Combat Studies Institute Press. http://usacac.army.mil/sites/default/files/documents/cace/CSI/CSIPubs/EvansOverThere.pdf
An annotated and updated publication of the memoirs of Henry C. Evans, a Captain of Artillery in the 1st Division during the war, this version includes a variety of supplemental material designed to aid the reader in understanding the context and events about which Evans writes.
Evan’s experiences and his clear writing style (which generally avoids the more turgid prose seen in other works from the period) include detailed descriptions of chemical warfare, including those involving mustard, which the German’s tended to use against artillery. Evans’ experience also demonstrates the incredible inexperience and lack of training among many of the officers and men of the AEF, though, like many others, he appears to have been a quick study.
Evans participated in the operations at Cantigny, Soisson’s (part of the Aisne-Marne campaign of which Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood were part), St. Mihel, and both phases of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Consequently, he saw action in the majority of combat operations conducted by the AEF, in addition to supporting both the French and British Army in their own operations.
Foulkes, Charles Howard. 1934. "Gas!" The Story of the Special Brigade. Edinburgh: W. Blackwood & Sons.
Foulkes led the British Chemical warfare program. This work is a detailed history of the British Special Brigade, which he led and which made up the entirety of the UK’s chemical warfare troops from 1915 to 1918. The book includes personal accounts by Foulkes of his own involvement in the effort, as well as photographs and maps illustrating gas employment. Per Ludwig Haber, Harold Hartley, wartime head of the British chemical warfare program after Foulkes, took issue with some of Foulkes assertions, which is discussed in Haber’s preface to his own history (see below).
Fussell, Paul. 1975. The Great War and Modern Memory. New York: Oxford University Press.
Fussell’s groundbreaking work on the memory of the First World War was the first to question our historical understanding versus the myths and memory of the Great War. He tackles the mythology of the war head-on, particularly the way the imagery of literature and poetry distorted our views of the war.
No stranger to war himself, Fussell was a disgruntled veteran of World War II and relished his role as a curmudgeon. Despite that, Fussell’s examination of the way that memory, history, and culture intersect remains one of the key works examining how the mythology of the First World War affects our modern understanding and is often on graduate and undergraduate reading lists and syllabi.
Fussell includes several passages on the role of chemical warfare in myth and memory. Critics often note the book is as much about Fussell’s own experience of a World War (the Second) as anything involving the First, yet his main points remain valid and carry a familiarity to combat veterans of any era. Fussell shows that the way we remember war, and the way those who have not experienced war come to view it, are both quite different from the way it actually happened.
Fries, Amos Alfred, and Clarence J. West. 1921. Chemical Warfare. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.
Fries, an engineering officer, took command of AEF Chemical Warfare Services in Europe during the war, and became the second (and most influential) commander of the Chemical Warfare Service, immediately following the end of the war. After the war he helped author this book as a means to build support for the Chemical Warfare Service against Congressional pressure to dramatically scale back the military after the war and discussions in Europe to ban chemical weapons. His study examines the history of the AEF chemical warfare service, tactics, agents, and other technical aspects of chemical warfare.
Fries was the foremost advocate for chemical warfare in U.S. during the inter-war period, but was increasingly distracted and obsessed with anti-communist efforts, as the U.S. Army hid its domestic intelligence collection activities against communists in the United States within the Chemical Warfare Service in the 1920s, under Fries command. His own paranoia about “communists” infiltrating American society veered far out of the mainstream and embarrassed the CWS on more than one occasion.
Despite such issues, this book and Fries Congressional testimony throughout the 1920s, represent the Chemical Warfare Service’s perspective on Chemical Warfare in the inter-war period. It cannot, however, be read without understanding its context. Fries was writing as an advocate of the CWS during a budgetary battle in the early 1920s with Congress. Congress sought significant cuts in the US Army and the elimination of the CWS. In addition, the US was involved in world discussions over the Geneva conventions and the banning of chemical weapons and warfare. This book was the case against both, as made by Fries and his service, which was largely effective in as much as it preserved the CWS (Congress considered its elimination) and the US signed but did not ratify Geneva Protocol until 1975.
Gawne, Jonathan. 2014. Lessons Learned in Combat: WW1 – The Early AEF. Ballacourage Books.
An eclectic self-published collection by the editor of (mostly) first person accounts written after the war by participants in various operations. Includes an account of Belleau Wood.
Gilchrist, H. L. 1928. A Comparative Study of World War Casualties from Gas and Other Weapons. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.
This highly detailed and invaluable treatise examines the history of chemical weapons during the war, specifically in relation to their casualties and casualties produced by other weapons. It is the most extensive examination of chemical warfare casualties in the First World War that remains easily and publicly available. His writing style is a unique voice in the literature and makes an otherwise morbid topic quite entertaining. While his subject is technical and dark, his writing style is both witty and intelligent and his charts and tables (best viewed in their original color formats) are inventive and highly illuminating.
Gilchrist was a medical officer and surgeon who had worked within the Army as part of its anti-disease efforts in the Philippines, Panama and Central America, and Cuba. He served in the AEF Chemical Service during the war as a Captain of the Medical Corps and part of the AEF CWS Medical Division under the command of Amos Fries. Prior to returning to the United States after the war, Gilchrist commanded the American Medical Corps element participating in Herbert Hoover’s Relief Expedition to Poland, and served as the Chief of the Medical Division of the Chemical Warfare Service in Maryland before retiring in 1934 as a Brigadier General. This work was authored during his time in Maryland.
Gudmundsson, Bruce I. 1989. Stormtroop tactics: innovation in the German Army, 1914-1918. New York: Praeger.
Excellent, though brief, examination of the innovations of the Hutier tactics with attention to those of infiltration and the assault utilized in the German Spring Offensives of 1918. Gudmundsson traces their development and the way the Germans adapted their tactics, often testing, and developing them on the Eastern Front, before adapting them to the Western. These tactics defined German offensive tactics throughout 1918.
Green, Andrew. 2003. Writing the Great War: Sir James Edmonds and the Official Histories, 1914-1948. London: Routledge.
Green’s is the conservative challenge to the work of Brian Bond. Attempting to demonstrate the “impartiality” of the official histories and burnish the myths of the British Official History and Douglas Haig, his work approaches that of hagiography. Poorly regarded among historians not members of a particular traditionalist outlook, Green’s work still has some value in that it is the only work to examine the actual process behind the Official Histories, though it should be read with the work of Brian Bond as a way to capture “both sides of the argument.”
Grotelueschen, Mark Ethan. 2007. The AEF Way of War: The American Army and Combat in World War I. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Based on Grotelueschen’s doctoral thesis at Texas A&M, this book explores the tactical and operational evolution of AEF doctrine from an overemphasis on the importance of the offensive, carried out by riflemen and bayonet, to more modern conceptions of combined arms operations. Grotelueschen explores the intellectual and doctrinal battle of ideas within the AEF between those, like Pershing, lacking in battlefield experience during the war, and those who learned the hard lessons of WWI combat.
Haber, Ludwig. F. 1986. The Poisonous Cloud: Chemical Warfare in the First World War. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
The definitive (though sometimes problematic) scholarly examination of chemical warfare in the First World War, written by Fritz Haber’s son – Ludwig Fritz Haber. His father, Fritz Haber, in addition to being half of the Nobel prize winning team of Haber-Bosch that perfected the process of nitrogen fixation from air, was also the “father” of chemical warfare in that he was the driving force behind the German use of chemical agents in 1915 and led much of the German chemical warfare program during World War I.
Ludwig Haber, an economist by trade, made extensive use of primary source documents, including some personal papers made exclusively available to him during his research. He also made use of his own family’s collection of his father’s documents. His assessment of the impact of chemical warfare, now seen as flawed, is one of the books greatest weaknesses. Further, his research is lacking in some key sources as it tends to focus more heavily on the British perspective and a number of documents related to the subject were not available during his writing, but later released by the Ministry of Defense and the National Archives. Also, Harold Hartley’s influence on Haber is problematic. Hartley, head of the British Chemical Warfare Department at the end of the war and a primary source for a significant part of Haber’s book, heavily colors Haber’s own interpretations.
Haldane, J. B. S. 1925. Callinicus; a Defence of Chemical Warfare. New York: E.P. Dutton & Company.
Inveterate provocateur and celebrated geneticist, J.B.S. Haldane published a treatise on chemical warfare in 1925 that argues FOR chemical warfare and discusses the myths and propaganda surrounding it. A highly entertaining and often humorous read on a very non-humorous topic, Haldane’s work is an important voice arguing against what would become myth and misunderstanding about chemical warfare in subsequent years. The irony of his work was that in many respects he agreed with Lefebure, who opposed chemical warfare, at least as far as both men recognized and condemned public ignorance on the topic.
Haldane wrote the book during the period of negotiations to ban chemical warfare, and the work is in that context. Still, Haldane knew of what he wrote, having served during the war and worked with his father as a young man. His father, John Scott Haldane was one of the world’s preeminent pre-war researchers in noxious atmospheres and their effect on the human body. He headed up a laboratory effort in France for the British government during the war that sought to identify German chemical agents and develop counter-measures. Haldane the senior also helped invent the small box respirators used by the British and Americans, among other contributions to the British war effort.
Hallas, James H., editor. 2009. Doughboy War: The American Expeditionary Force in World War I. Stackpole Books.
Hallas’s work is a collection of hundreds of firsthand accounts and unit histories of the AEF, focused on infantry and artillery forces. Collated in rough chronological order by campaign, this book is a handy resource for historians and authors looking for original sources. Of interest to those examining the history of chemical warfare are several accounts describing chemical warfare attacks and their consequences.
Hamburger, Kenneth E. 1997. Learning Lessons in the American Expeditionary Forces. US Army Center of Military History. http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/aef/aef.htm (accessed 16 June 2017).
A brief monograph examining the adaptation and steep learning curve of the American Expeditionary Forces. Rather than focus on the many deficiencies present within the AEF and the American Army, Hamburger argues that the conscious commitment of the AEF leadership to learning the lessons of their allies and enemy while setting up systems to disseminate that learning through schools and other training, helped create an Army that continued to grow in effectiveness during its brief period of combat and set the stage for success in World War II.
Hanslian, Rudolf. 1937. Der Chemische Krieg. Berlin: E. S. Mittler und Sohn.
_____. 1951. Vom Gaskampf zum Atomkrieg: Die Entwicklung der wissenschaftlichen Waffen. Stuttgart: Verlag Chemiker-Zeitung.
_____ and Holger Tümmler. 1931. Gaskrieg!: Der deutsche Gasangriff bei Ypren.
Rudolf Hanslian was a chemist/pharmacologist who wrote the definitive German history of chemical warfare in World War I. Hanslian’s Der Chemische Krieg, along with Prentiss’s Chemical Warfare (see below) are the two most definitive accounts of chemical warfare in World War I and the inter-war period. Together, these two books, one German, one American, are the “Holy Grails” of chemical warfare history. Both are long out of print, rare, and Hanslian’s book is available only in the original German.
Cochrane regularly cites Hanslian and most other historians writing about chemical warfare in World War I do as well, primarily due to his meticulousness and his access to German sources. Significantly, Hanslian’s work made use of records available in the German archives lost in World War II and no longer available.
Hanslian writes from the German perspective, but is not confined to it and, like Prentiss, covers the topic from all angles. Even for those unable to read German, Hanslian’s many maps, charts, and photographs are still highly valuable. Hanslian’s account of the initial attack at Ypres in April 1915 is also of interest as a supplement to the German Official History’s account.
Harris, Robert, and Jeremy Paxman. 2002. A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret History of Chemical and Biological Warfare. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks.
Well reviewed in the public press, Harris and Paxman’s work is alarmist and best confined to the world of hysterical literature about chemical and biological warfare that emerged in the 1990s following the Aum Shinrikyo attack on the Tokyo Subway. Historically speaking, the book is sufficiently researched and well documented enough to use as a reference for finding other sources, but its conclusions trend toward the category of “WMD hysteria” and the authors frequently engage in threat inflation to make their point.
Heller, Charles E. 1984. Leavenworth Papers No. 10, Chemical Warfare in World War I: The American Experience, 1917-1918. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Combat Studies Institute, US Army Command and General Staff College.
Heller’s work remains the only published and widely distributed history of the Chemical Warfare Service in World War I and the only one other than Cochrane and Bailey, until recently, to examine the effect of chemical warfare on the AEF.
Given that the AEF engaged in combat operations continuously from January 1918 until the end of the war, that experience forms a valuable juxtaposition against that experienced by the Germans, French, and British in the previous years, especially when it comes to casualties resulting from chemical warfare.
Heller was the first post-WWII historian (other than Rexmond Cochrane) to note the significant effect of chemical warfare and its high casualty rate on the AEF. Heller’s book is currently the definitive account of AEF chemical warfare in all aspects. While not comprehensive, it is broad and well written.
Homsher, David C. 2006. American Battlefields of World War I, Chateau-Thierry, Then and Now. San Marco, California: Battleground Publications.
Homsher’s book is an excellent guide to the battlefields of Chateau-Thierry. Unfortunately, the poor print quality of some of the maps and photographs, all in black and white, distracts from the otherwise well researched text, which is written primarily as a tour guide for visitors, in that aspect it is occasionally out of date. Visitors to the area are still encouraged to read this work prior to their visit, though due to its large size and heft, may wish to leave their copy at home when they travel.
Jones, Edgar, Ian Palmer and Simon Wessely. 2007. “Enduring Beliefs about Effects of Gassing War: Qualitative Study.” British Medical Journal 335: 1313 – 1315.
One of the few non-historical works to examine First World War chemical warfare through thematic analysis of written and reported statements from a sample of veterans about gassing. The article re-affirms and defines the myth and misunderstandings first identified by Gilchrist and others as it relates to chemical casualties and public and military attitudes toward chemical weapons.
Jones, Simon. 2007. World War I Gas Warfare Tactics and Equipment. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd.
A traditional Osprey military history, Jones’s work is brief and best viewed as a quick reference. While not complete or comprehensive as to chemical warfare equipment and methods of agent dissemination and tactics, it fulfills its purpose, remaining basic in scope. Where it has flaws, it is due to the British centric nature of many of Osprey’s histories, and it leaves out much relating to the Russian/Eastern and the Italian/Austro-Hungarian fronts.
Krause, Joachim and Charles K. Mallory. 1992. Chemical Weapons in Soviet Military Doctrine: Military and Historical Experience, 1915-1991. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press
This is the only publicly available English language history of the Soviet chemical weapons program. Copies are rare and mostly confined to libraries. Published at the very end of the Cold War, during the brief period when the Soviet archives were open to western researchers, the book relied mostly on secondary sources and declassified western material. It remains alone in its field.
Krause and Mallory’s work is highly valuable for several reasons, but there are two of major interest to students of chemical warfare history: the first is that Krause and Mallory examine, to the extent possible, both Russian offensive and defensive chemical warfare measures in the First World War – a topic almost entirely neglected in English language history. Second, they explore in depth the collusion between the Germans and the Russians during the Weimer and Nazi years, during which the German chemical warfare programs were run out of the Soviet Union, allowing the Germans to avoid sanction under the Versailles treaty restrictions, and to the benefit of later Soviet chemical weapons programs.
Soviet doctrine on the use of chemical weapons was an important topic during the Cold War, and has modern application as that doctrine has/had significant influence on Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and North Korea. This work is a “must read” for any student of chemical warfare history. Its only flaw is out of the control of the authors – the paucity of sources on the topic. It is likely to remain the only work of its kind (in English) for some time, due to the difficulty of research in the Soviet era archives maintained by Russia.
Lefebure, Victor. 1923. The Riddle of the Rhine: Chemical Strategy in Peace and War. New York: Chemical Foundation, Inc.
Lefebure’s work is one of the first and most significant of those produced following the war, covering the war’s chemical warfare history. Lefebure served in the British Army during the war, working on its chemical warfare program, and following the war headed the British chemical industry trade group. He attempts to downplay hysteria and dispel myth and propaganda about chemical warfare while at the same time his purpose was to argue for an effective ban on chemical warfare implemented through the dismantlement of the German chemical industry – a position that would have benefited his business organization’s members.
Lefebure was particularly prescient about the development of myth and misinformation about chemical warfare, and despite his efforts, he was ineffective in fighting the larger tide of misinformation he condemns so thoroughly. His work remains frequently cited and an important contribution to the understanding of chemical warfare in the First World War, despite some of its bias problems, and is freely available in electronic formats on the internet and from e-book providers.
Lepick, Oliver. 1998. La Grand Guerre Chimique: 1914-1918. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Lepick, Oliver. 1999. Les armes chimiques. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
The French possessed an extensive and effective chemical warfare program in the First World War, surpassing that of the British, and second only to the Germans. Lepick’s works, available only in the original French, are among the few modern examinations of the French effort and (in French) on the broader topic of chemical warfare in the First World War and beyond. La Grande Guerre is the most definitive account of the French program presently available and he directly takes on Ludwig Haber’s conclusions in Poisonous Cloud. Lepick’s research in the French archives and his analysis of casualties stands out. Along with Edward Spiers, Lepick is one of the foremost scholars on the topic of chemical warfare history and his work has significantly influenced more recent work on the topic.
Liddell-Hart, Basil Henry. 1934. A History of the World War 1914-1918. London: Faber and Faber.
While viewed with mistrust by modern World War I revisionists, Hart’s work remains an important historical document in the evolution of tactics and operations within the British Army during the war, which formed the basis of mechanized warfare in WWII. Many of the tactics of mobile warfare emerged in 1918, and Hart’s perspective on those, including the role of chemical warfare is as illuminating in what it contains as what it leaves out. Many in British military circles, including the Official Histories, downplayed the role of chemical warfare following the war, a cultural aversion to what was considered an “unmanly” form of warfare. Hart falls into this group, though his account briefly discusses the role chemical warfare played at various points, including its initial use at Ypres, the British use at Loos, and its role in 1918.
Ludendorff, Erich. 1919. My War Memories, 1914-1918. London: Hutchinson & Co.
Ludendorff and many other German works following the are the subject of great skepticism, because of their association with the “stab in the back” narrative, Nazism, and their tendency to create an alternative history. Yet, Ludendorff’s is one of the few works readily available in English, and while his mentions of chemical warfare are few and brief, they are revealing in that they stress the importance of chemical weapons to 1918 tactics and operations.
Lupfer, Timothy T. 1981. “The Dynamics of Doctrine: The Changes in German Tactical Doctrine During the First World War,” Leavenworth Papers Number 4 (July). Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
An excellent account of tactical adaptation in the German Army during World War I, Lupfer covers the development of Hutier tactics, the spring offensive, and Georg Bruchmüller’s contributions. Lupfer notes the key role Bruchmüller placed on the use of gas in the initial stage of the offensive.
Macpherson, William G., W. P. Herringham, Thomas R. Elliott, and Andrew Balfour. 1923. Medical Services; Diseases of the War, Volume II – Including the Medical Aspects of Aviation and Gas Warfare and the Gas Poisoning in Tanks and Mines. London: H. M. Stationery Office.
Part of the 109 volume British “official history” this work includes several analyses on chemical casualties in the war that are useful to a researcher. This work is particularly useful as one of the only volumes of British official history that thoroughly documents British chemical casualty counts. Its carefully drawn maps provide visual evidence of the impact of chemical warfare in 1918, and these frequently appear in other works (including Prentiss and Hanslian).
This is also one of the first works to note the significant shift in the chemical war represented by the Spring Offensive in 1918 and its connection to the July 1917 introduction of Mustard agent by the Germans. In fact, its evidence runs counter to the official narrative argued by James Edmonds’ (the original series editor) that chemical weapons were ineffective and no more than a nuisance, though one has to pay careful attention to the statistical data to note it.
Mayor, Adrienne. 2003. Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Duckworth, 2003.
A groundbreaking work examining the use of toxic and chemical warfare throughout ancient history and some of the ideological and religious opposition to it. The author denotes some of the earliest examples of what is now known as the “Chemical Weapons Taboo.” While most date the emergence of chemical warfare to 1915, Mayor comprehensively examines its much longer history.
McRandle, James H. and James Quirk. 2006. “The Blood Test Revisited: A New Look at German Casualty Counts in World War I,” The Journal of Military History 70 (July):667-701.
McRandale and Quirk’s work is but the latest contribution to a debate dating back to the 1920s and Winston Churchill. The debate was originally between those who were critical of the leadership of General Haig and Haig’s supporters as to the extent of British casualties versus that of the Germans as first espoused by Churchill in his history of the war – The World Crisis. In examining Churchill’s so called “Blood Test,” the authors cover familiar ground, but their detailed discussion of the problems of casualty counts from the war is useful for any researcher who would use them, for any purpose.
Mosier, John. 2001. The Myth of the Great War: A New Military History of World War I. New York: HarperCollins.
Mosier is one of several voices in First World War historical revisionism, challenging many of the myths about the war and identifying numerous areas of the history previously considered “settled,” attempting to open them to debate.
Like many current works on the war, Mosier challenges the traditional history using not only new interpretation of existing knowledge, but also the discovery and release of new documents and archival research, including several German documents previously believed lost.
Mosier is not a historian and much of his work, and many of his interpretations, are controversial and heavily challenged by scholars of the war. Mosier writes with a bombast and a voice that seems to delight in challenging conventionalism and consensus viewpoints. Unfortunately, that delight alone cannot support some of his arguments, which frequently lack adequate research or thoroughly documented argument. While he offers enjoyable prose, readers of his arguments should exercise a healthy dose of skepticism as to his conclusions.
Muller-Kiel, Ulrich. 1932. Die Chemische Waffe im Weltkrieg und Jetzt. Berlin: Verlag Chemie, GmbH
A rare, brief technical treatise that drew from a variety of secondary and primary sources. Published as sort of a “textbook” on chemical weapons in Germany, the book is useful to researchers who can read German, which was the “language of chemistry” until the 1950s. Particularly of interest is the books bibliography, which includes several interwar sources not frequently cited or available to researchers
Neumann, Brian Fisher. 2006. Pershing’s Right Hand: General James G. Harbord and the American Expeditionary Forces in the First World War. Doctoral Dissertation. Texas A&M University.
The definitive (and only) biographical study of Harbord. While best known for his role leading the Marine Brigade of the 2nd Division at Belleau Wood, that action was only a brief part of his service to the AEF. Harbord was one of Pershing’s most trusted officers, and helped organize and manage the formation and development of the AEF headquarters and staff from their arrival in the summer of 1917 until he took over the Marine Brigade in May of 1918. During the final four months of the war he managed the entire AEF logistics system – the Services of Supply (SoS), and as Neumann argues, Harbord was one of the first and most significant of a new kind of military officer that would play a critical role in World War II – that of executive or manager.
As Neumann argues, prior to WWI, American military officers primarily concerned themselves with engineering or with leading men in combat or in direct support of combat forces. World War I demonstrated the importance of managing large organizations and the role of bureaucracy and administration in achieving victory. Harbord’s role during the war defined this new kind of officer for an entire generation of officers who worked under him.
Harbord heavily influenced Marshall, Pershing’s “left hand,” who would go on to embody this new kind of leader/manager in the Second World War (along with Dwight D. Eisenhower). Harbord’s experience served him well after the war. As head of RCA he was one of the new corporate executives between the wars who revolutionized the American corporation and way of business. In this he made use of his wartime experience, overseeing vast, consolidated enterprises.
Owen, Peter F. 2007. To the Limit of Endurance: A Battalion of Marines in the Great War. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.
Owen’s account is one of a growing number of books about the American experience in the First World War looking at it from the viewpoint of smaller units, interwoven with first person accounts. To the Limit is one of the rarer works to acknowledge the major role played by chemical agent during Belleau Wood and the heavy casualties it produced among the Marines. While Owen’s focus is narrow, his work is well researched and an essential account of the battle.
Palazzo, Albert. 2000. Seeking Victory on the Western Front: The British Army and Chemical Warfare in World War I. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
The first and one of the only scholarly works to argue cogently and comprehensively against the traditional view of chemical weapons in the war, suggesting that the traditional narrative understates or ignores the role of chemical warfare in 1918. Palazzo argues that chemical warfare played a key role in British tactical success in 1918. The book’s detailed analysis of all elements of the British Chemical Warfare effort in 1918 to include agents, weapons, tactics, and casualties, supports his arguments well, and notes the influence of both Hartley and Foulkes in shaping the traditionalist history.
That Palazzo chooses the British effort to make this argument is ironic. The British chemical warfare effort lagged all others, apart from Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The French effort far exceeded that of the British. By November 1918, the US chemical warfare program and nascent chemical industry surpassed the British, and was on track to surpass the mighty German chemical industry, which it did after World War II. The fact that Palazzo can make such a cogent and well-researched argument using the British chemical warfare effort and their response to German chemical warfare, is but one more argument in favor of his conclusions.
Peterson, H. C. 1939. Propaganda for War: The Campaign Against American Neutrality 1914-17. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
While containing various asides and conjecture, Peterson’s examination of the British effort to involve the United States in World War I, published at the beginning of World War II, was the first examination of its kind. In relation to chemical warfare, he was the first to note how the British sought to obscure the role of British and French chemical warfare in the conflict from the American public, while simultaneously inflaming public opinion regarding the German’s first use of chemical agents in 1915 (something recently confirmed by the editor of this list in research at the British Archives).
For instance, the British and French cut the German transatlantic cables and edited American correspondents reporting on the war so much so that after the initial attack there were only rare mentions of chemical warfare in American media after 1915, and these usually emphasized German use as part of a broader “atrocity” propaganda campaign.
Peterson must be read in context, however. The book’s publication coincides with anti-war sentiments among a majority of Americans and widespread anti-British attitudes. The America First movement and the push for American neutrality in World War II influenced Peterson’s work, which must be understood within that context, even if some of its assertions regarding the First World War are based on legitimate research and facts.
Prentiss, Augustin M. 1937. Chemicals in War: A Treatise on Chemical Warfare. New York: McGraw Hill Book Company Inc.
A thorough technical and analytical analysis of chemical warfare written in the interwar period that includes a detailed examination of chemical warfare casualties in World War I. There is no more detailed technical, tactical, and strategic analysis, collection of information and evaluation of the role of chemical warfare in existence, aside from Hanslian’s German language work. Prentiss also contains information on elements of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service at the time of publication, shortly before the outbreak of World War II.
Prentiss’s book is one of the two “holy grails” of chemical warfare secondary works of history, the other being Hanslian’s. These two works are essential to any understanding of the history of chemical warfare and any work failing to consult them and address their information is generally suspect, though both contain omissions of information regarding both the German and American Chemical Warfare programs due to secrecy regarding certain subjects during the time of publication. That said, the amount of material available in these two works is nothing short of astonishing and their treatment is the most comprehensive of any available. In addition, based on their text and citations, the authors of both works may have consulted one another.
Rainey, James W. 1992. “The Questionable Training of the AEF in World War I.” Parameters. (Winter 1992-93), 89-103. http://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/pubs/parameters/Articles/1992/1992%20rainey.pdf (accessed 16 June 2017).
_____. 1983. “Ambivalent Warfare: The Tactical Doctrine of the AEF in World War I.” Parameters. XIII:3, 34-46. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a518352.pdf (accessed 16 June 2017).
Rainey’s monographs both appeared in Parameters, the academic journal of the US Army War College, approximately a decade apart. Rainey examines the myriad problems in the AEF, both in its training, school structure, and its tactical doctrine, exploring the way these three interacted with personnel policy to disrupt preparing the AEF for war. He notes some of the ways AEF policy worked at counter-purposes. Rainey is critical of Pershing and his stress on training for “open warfare” as well as the way the AEF school system worked at cross purposes with the divisional training plans. Instead of training to work together as a combined team, units would lose many of their key personnel and leaders to school training and seldom had training working as a combined arms team. Taken together, these two articles cover some of the same ground, but from different angles and are a solid introduction to the inherent problems in training and doctrine that plagued the AEF right up to the end of the war.
Read, James Morgan. 1941. Atrocity Propaganda, 1914-1919. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Another analysis of the role of propaganda in the First World War, including the use of propaganda surrounding chemical warfare, particularly its first use at Ypres in 1915. Atrocity propaganda formed a key element of all belligerents’ efforts, and this examination is the first to examine some of the myths about the war that later developed from those early propaganda efforts. Like the work of Peterson, it must also be understood in the context of the time it was published.
Richter, Donald C. 1992. Chemical Soldiers: British Gas Warfare in World War I. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.
Richter offers a scholarly work examining the history covered by Foulkes, head of the British Chemical Warfare Special Brigade. Relying heavily on Foulkes account and research from the Imperial Archives, Richter develops a more through and complete history of the Special Brigade and the efforts of the British government in the realm of chemical warfare, though it is generally an uncritical examination.
Spiers, Edward M. 1986. Chemical Warfare. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Spiers, Edward M. 1989. Chemical Weaponry: A Continuing Challenge. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Spiers, Edward M. 1994. Chemical and Biological Weapons: A Study of Proliferation. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Spiers, Edward M. 2000. Weapons of Mass Destruction Prospects for Proliferation. Basingstoke: Macmillan Press.
Spiers, Edward M. 2010. A History of Chemical and Biological Weapons. London: Reaktion.
Spiers is a professor of Strategic Studies at the University of Leeds and is one of the only scholars that regularly writes on the history of chemical and biological warfare in the English language (other than the late Jonathan Tucker), amongst a prolific amount of other historical work. A History of Chemical and Biological Weapons is his most recent on the subject and updates some of his previously published work from the 1980s on the subject. While broader in scope than the First World War, his treatise includes an examination of the early period. All his works on chemical warfare, while well researched and written, tend to be brief. His challenges to the established narratives have progressed over the years toward greater recognition of the role chemical warfare played in 1918, with the 2010 book only gently challenging Haber’s conclusions, though his views continue to evolve on the subject, more recently embracing new revisionist views like those of Palazzo and others.
Stone, Norman. 1975. The Eastern Front, 1914-1917. New York: Scribner.
One of the few accounts in English focusing on the eastern front of the First World War. Stone’s 1975 account remains definitive in many ways, as few American and British researchers have written on the subject, or like Helwig have focused on specific aspects of it involving only Austro-Hungary.
Stone himself is an iconoclast, and while his research is excellent, it is not always comprehensive, and his voice, while vital, is not without its biases. Stone is not a fan of the empiricist method of history, and eschews the objective voice. While that can lend a refreshing air to his writing, it is not without controversy. Because The Eastern Front remains one of the few English language works on the topic, and the source material it is based on is limited, some of his conclusions are still unchallenged, though recent work has “tacked away” from his groundbreaking study and its conclusions.
Stone neglects the significant role chemical weapons played on the Eastern front, and his lack of military experience and training shows in some of his conclusions regarding military tactics and operations. All students of the First World War eventually must engage with his work, and it remains widely read, but it is not without its problems.
Thompson, J. Lee. 1999. Politicians, the Press & Propaganda: Lord Northcliffe & the Great War, 1914-1919. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press.
The only post World War II history to examine the British propaganda effort with its own people and in the US in World War, which heavily influenced American impressions of chemical warfare. Thompson’s work is also one of the only works on the megalomaniacal architect of the British propaganda effort. Northcliffe is a neglected figure in history, but deserves greater attention, not only for his role in the war, but in that he was quite literally the living embodiment of all the most sensational suspicions and accusations normally associated with William Randolf Hearst and Rupert Murdoch, comparisons to which are inevitable.
United States Army Center of Military History. 1988. United States Army in the World War, 1917-1919 (Series), 17 volumes. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
This set is the American Official History of the war consisting mostly of primary documents and unit histories. Eschewing the narrative approach of most official histories, the multi-volume set had its own long history, as the first volumes were published between the wars and shortly after World War II, with the final versions published after the war and reprinted as a complete set only in the 1990s. These books are a valuable research tool for any historian or student of the war. The series is entirely available on line in PDF format in a variety of places on the internet at no cost.
United States Army Center of Military History. 1995. American Armies and Battlefields in Europe. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. https://www.abmc.gov/news-events/news/world-war-i-historic-reference-book-now-available-abmcgov#.WUQ1typ96Uk (accessed 17 June 2017).
Originally published in 1927 as guide to the American battlefields of the war, that work expanded in 1938 into a rework by the American Battlefield Monuments Commission (ABMC). ABMC maintains the cemeteries and battlefield monuments of both World Wars around the world to this day, and in its formative years was led by Pershing after his retirement from the Army.
Among the contributing authors to the 1938 volume was Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served under Pershing at the ABMC in the 1920s. Since the official history published by the Army (see above) did not include a narrative account, this work serves as the narrative account of the American side of the war and serves as a companion to the original documents contained in the official history. The original 1938 version is available freely online from the ABMC on their website and includes numerous useful maps and references. The GPO reissued the book in the 1990s as part of a broader reissue of the official histories. That reissue is on the US Army Center for Military History history website for download, free of charge.
Vedder, Edward B. 1925. The Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins Company.
Key post-war examination of the medical aspects of chemical warfare including its psychological and physiological effects. Includes an in-depth analysis of chemical warfare casualties noting that approximately 80 percent of casualties were the result of Mustard, 10 percent the result of “Blue and Green Cross” (diphenyl-chlorarsine and phosgene and diphosgene), with the remaining 10 percent from other agents, demonstrating the importance of the “King of War Gases,” mustard, in 1918.
Vilensky, Joel A. 2005. Dew of Death: The Story of Lewisite, America’s World War I Weapon of Mass Destruction. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Vilensky is not a historian or a chemist, but rather a biologist at Indiana University. Vilensky was studying the curative properties of a compound known as “British Anti-Lewisite,” which developed after World War II into a cure for Wilson’s disease and metal poisoning. Wondering what the “Lewisite” was, Vilensky fell down the rabbit hole into the early history of the Chemical Warfare Service, with this book the result. While his account of the early development of the Chemical Warfare Service and the development of Lewisite from World War I to World War II is fascinating and well written, especially when discussing some of the more difficult scientific and medical aspects, he worked primarily from secondary literature. A good, short book, well written, but in the vein of “popular history” with a frustrating use of citations that are difficult for researchers to interpret or verify easily.
Votaw, John. 2005. The American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. Battle Orders Series. New York: Osprey.
Votaw led the Cantigny First Division Foundation in Illinois as Executive Director for many years and is a graduate of West Point (’61) who served in Vietnam, before eventually completing a PhD and becoming an academic. This book is the “Osprey treatment” of the AEF, examining its organization, training, and doctrine, and some highlights of the war. Brief, heavily and well-illustrated, like other Osprey books, this one serves as a good introduction and guide, though not an especially illuminating one when it comes to the role chemical warfare played in the AEF.
Wachtel, Curt. 1941. Chemical Warfare. Brooklyn, NY: Chemical Publishing Co., Inc.
Curt Wachtel’s book is a remarkable little treatise. Quite detailed, it was published in 1941 in the United States “in the hope it will be helpful to the military of his adopted country.” It is this aspect that makes it so unique, as prior to coming to the United States he’d been the Founder of the Pharmacological Section of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute and the Founder and former director of the Institute of Industrial Hygiene and Professional Diseases in Germany.
Wachtel served under and with Haber during and after the war, and was one of the foremost experts in the world on the physiological effects of noxious gases and toxic agents. His understanding of the German chemical warfare program, some of which he relates in an otherwise technical treatise, was extensive and based on personal experience, including his involvement in the development of mustard agent by the Germans. Unfortunately, it appears the American CWS ignored him, as Joel Vilensky suggests in his work (see above).
Winter, Jay. 1995. Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Winter is a cultural historian and popular scholar on the First World War. Like Paul Fussell’s work, this book is primarily concerned with the ways that the war is remembered, much of which is mythologized and misconstrued. His work includes analysis of the cultural effect of chemical warfare and its depiction in art and literature, which in part, form parts of the mythology and historical inaccuracy surrounding the subject. Unfortunately, Winter frequently succumbs to his own mythologizing in his other work, in one particularly infamous example, he declared the German gas attack at Ypres in April 1915 as the [metaphorical] start of World War I.
Woods, William Seaver. 1931. Colossal Blunders of the War. New York: The MacMillan Company.
Woods, a newspaperman, authored this unique work in the inter-war period based on discussions with wartime participants, published histories, government and press reports, and congressional testimony. While he identifies many areas where he believes each side made major mistakes, one of the areas he focuses on is the lack of American preparedness for chemical warfare, including quotes from key generals of the AEF on the topic, given to him personally and available in no other record. This includes the relation between battlefield experience in the AEF and chemical casualties.
Woodward, David. 2014. The American Army and the First World War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Woodward’s book is massive in its scope, but succinct in its delivery. A good overview of the organization of the AEF, inter-allied diplomacy and politics, and the logistical and training problems of the AEF, as well as its battles, Woodward covers a lot of ground, though not particularly in depth. Woodward is one of a number of historians to adopt the controversial argument that the Meuse-Argonne battle was the decisive battle leading to the collapse of the German Army. He also notes the importance of the “morale” boost American entry into the war, and the American Army’s enthusiasm, lent to the Allied cause at a critical moment when both the French and British Armies nearly broke. Including an important part on the logistics of the war, there are few, if any books about the AEF that are so comprehensive.
Woodward’s broad account is still lacking at several points. Woodward is one of the rare historians to note the importance of chemical warfare to all sides in 1918, though he largely leaves the topic (and details) out of much of his account believing it only to be important to the “offensive” despite the widespread use of chemicals by the Germans while on the defensive after the failure of the Spring Offensives. Woodward also errs at several points regarding the use of mustard by the Allies and Germans. These problems do not significantly distract from his narrative, but this book is best viewed as an introduction and not a definitive account.
Zabecki, David T. 1994. Steel Wind: Colonel Georg Bruchmüller and the Birth of Modern Artillery. Westport, Conn: Praeger.
Zabecki is arguably the foremost American scholar on Georg Bruchmüller and this study represents the most thorough examination of Bruchmüller’s role in developing the new tactics and techniques the Germans used in 1917 on the Eastern Front. These tactics became essential to the Spring 1918 Ludendorff Offensives, though the Germans adapted and utilized them differently throughout their army. Zabecki examines the history and the role that those developments in 1918 had on the subsequent development of military tactics and strategy, specifically the role of artillery.
Zabecki, David T. 2006. The German 1918 Offensives: A Case Study in the Operational Level of War. London: Routledge.
Building on his earlier work on Georg Bruchmüller, Zabecki offers a detailed examination of the 1918 Spring Offensives and the operational level changes in doctrine that led to a return of open warfare on the Western Front. Part of this examination includes the role of second-generation chemical warfare agents and the importance of chemical warfare and its employment in the offensives. This book should be considered a “must-read” for any serious student of World War I and any military CBRN professional attempting to understand the way chemical warfare was used on the battlefield.
Zuber, Terence. 2002. Inventing the Schlieffen Plan: German War Planning, 1871-1914. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Zuber’s work is of importance to any examination of the beginning of the war, focusing on long held assumptions and traditional narratives about the so-called Schlieffen Plan. Zuber challenges the traditional narrative, offering new archival research and documents. His work, however, is highly controversial and not without many critics. Readers are encouraged to look up reviews of his work for the major points of argument and contention among scholars of the subject.
Zuber, Terence. 2004. German War Planning, 1891-1914: Sources and Interpretations. Woodbridge, Suffolk, U.K.: Boydell Press.
Zuber translated and published this collection of primary source documents, many obtained from the archives of the former East Germany, closed to researchers until the end of the Cold War. A supplement to his earlier work, Zuber has done a great public service in locating and translating these important documents, making them accessible to a wider audience.
Zuber, Terence. 2011. The Real German War Plan, 1904-14. Stroud: History Press.
Building on his earlier work, Zuber’s most recent publication represents the culmination of his research into German War Planning and his challenge to the traditional narrative. Still controversial, Zuber manages in this volume to offer an alternative plan for the opening of the war. This book is essentially the “bookend” to his 2002 work, continuing his earlier arguments, but fleshing them out with a more cogent argument as to what the actual planning contained. This book was a response to academic criticism of his arguments contained in his earlier work, and is best read with the Inventing the Schlieffen Plan and some of his more critical reviewers in the academic journals.