In 'Finding the Lost Battalion' author Robert J. Laplander meticulously chronicles what would become one of the most famous events of American participation in World War One, discovering the truths behind the legend. Drawing on hundreds of sources - many never before seen - and spanning eight years of research, including four trips to the sight of the action in France, Mr. Laplander leads the reader through the events in the Charlevaux Ravine during early October 1918, and the circumstances leading up to it, virtually hour by hour. In this way the book does not merely tell the story itself, but explains why it all came about in the first place. The end result is the single most factual acounting of the Lost Battalion and their leader, Charles W. Whittlesey, to date, told in an entertaining, fast moving style. Never dry or boring, as some military tomes can be, this one is sure to quickly become a favorite on your shelf and the benchmark against which all further work on the Lost... More > Battalion will be measured.< Less
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By Robert Laplander
Nov 1, 2007
"Review by: Military Collector & Historian – Journal of the Company of Military Historians, Vol. 59, No. 2, Summer 2007." “While incredibly dense in its detail, which is nearly a minute by minute accounting of events, (Robert) Laplander’s writing is clear and concise. His research efforts have been phenomenal and wide ranging (and) there is no doubt that Finding the Lost Battalion is the most detailed and exhaustively researched account... It is difficult to imagine that Laplander’s book is anything less than the final word on the Lost Battalion (and) should remain the definitive study for many years to come.”
"Among the best Great War reads ever!" Robert Laplander has the gift of narrative, with the well-honed senses of a keen researcher. I know from personal experience the profound sensation that comes from standing on the battlefields of the Great War and visiting with the ghosts of the past as you follow in the very footsteps of our brave men, those who made the ultimate sacrifice for democracy so long ago. From meticulous work and repeated visits to France, Laplander brings back to us the anonymous faces of the boys come men who left their homes and daily lives to experience the adventures of war. What these troopers found waiting for them was the horror of slaughter and the bitter decision of duty. Laplander gives you the feeling of the trenches with an extraordinary series of character sketches that make you feel like the men of the Lost Battalion are your own friends, your own comrades in arms. Finding the Lost Battalion is a very readable meld of big-picture unit action... More > with a focus on the situations of individual Doughboys. It puts the reader there among the troops in trees of the Argonne, under the rain of artillery and the clatter of the Maxim guns. You’ll enjoy this read for many hours and revisit their story many, many times. Well done. Byron Scarbrough, Author, They Called Us Devil Dogs< Less
"An artisan's pride in workmanship" Robert J. Laplander has written one of the best unit histories I have read. This book is a public exposition of this private historian’s lifelong passion in search of the Lost Battalion. His approach is markedly unique. His research has set a true benchmark for the accolade, “exhaustive.” His style, while occasionally non-standard, is clear, simple, and often vivid. Every chapter reveals this artisan’s uncompromising pride in getting it right. The cumulative effect is a labor of love, and a clearly superior achievement. This is an outstanding book. This is not a casual read. My rough estimate is 200,000 words, or twice the standard historical narrative. I was not surprised to learn Laplander cut the length in two from his initial draft; the quality and quantity of his research and analysis suggest there was much more that he just could not shoehorn into the final cut. American attacks in the Argonne were relentless, repetitive, and... More > gruesome. Like the battle, this book grinds you down; it leaves you emotionally drained. But Laplander recounts the sacrifices of these men and they call you back to see them finish their dirty job. Laplander’s understanding of American infantry tactics is remarkable. His explanation of how the doughboys fought at the squad and company level, which he derived from personal accounts, is straightforward and worthy of citation by professional historians. I found Laplander’s biographic study of the Lost Battalion’s commander, Major Charles Whittlesey, the most compelling passages in the book. The author examined this complex and tragic figure and revealed his uncommon leadership and his personal demons with respect, integrity, and humanity. I would compare this book favorably to other diamond-in-the rough regimentals such as Warren Wilkinson’s Mother, May You Never See the Sights I've Seen (57th Massachusetts in the Civil War), Joseph Balkoski’s Beyond the Beachhead (29th Division in Normandy), and Shelby Stanton’s Anatomy of a Division: the 1st Cav in Vietnam. I highly recommend Robert Laplander’s Finding the Lost Battalion to armchair historians, military professionals, and Great War enthusiasts. This is a must-read for students and enthusiasts of the American Expeditionary Forces and the Meuse-Argonne battle.< Less
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