Julius Holthaus, a humble American farm boy, went to France to help fill the depleted ranks of the Allies in America’s largest battle of World War I, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. He had no idea what he was getting into. The fight would involve more than a million American doughboys, span forty-seven days, and result in the deaths of tens of thousands of people in one of the bloodiest battle in American military history.
Countless books focus on great military leaders, war heroes, and battle tactics, but one must look at war on a human scale to truly understand its toll. That understanding comes through examining the life and diary of Holthaus. Author Clyde Cremer explores them in detail, supplementing the diary’s information with the insights he gleaned during six years of research. This history follows a single soldier from rural Idaho and Iowa through his enlistment, training, and final trauma in the dark, disenchanted forest of the Argonne.
Filled with facts and historical anecdotes, this could be the story of many of the members of the American Expeditionary Forces sent overseas in World War I. Their names are not listed in the history books, but they all answered their country’s call and should be remembered.