The Remains of Company D: A Story of the Great War

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"Not since Flags of Our Fathers—no, make that, Not since Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory—no, make that, Not ever—has an American nonfiction writer reached into history and produced a testament of young men in terrible battle with the stateliness, the mastery of cadence, the truthfulness and the muted heartbreak of James Carl Nelson in The Remains of Company D. I wish I'd had the honor of working on this book with him. But then, he didn't need me."---Ron Powers, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Flags of Our Fathers and author of Mark Twain: A Life

"A beautifully crafted anthem to doomed American youth, James Carl Nelson's The Remains of Company D is a must-read for World War I enthusiasts and those looking for a damn good war book."---Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of The Longest Winter and The Bedford Boys

"War is always hell, but the unprecedented carnage on World War I's Western Front was the stuff of nightmares. The American boys of Company D were on the front lines, and James Carl Nelson has combined previously unpublished first-person accounts, prodigious research, and vivid, you-are-there prose into one of the great books on the subject. This is a Band of Brothers for World War I."---James Donovan, author of A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn—the Last Great Battle of the American West

"James Carl Nelson's book is a great contribution to AEF history. He has done an incredible amount of research in order to convey the experience of one group of doughboys...and to tell their story through their own words.....He reminds us that these long-forgotten battles of ninety years ago were as hard fought as any before or since, and that our country was well served by the young men who fought them. Get this book. It puts a very human face on the experience of Americans on the Western Front."---Dr. Paul Herbert, executive director of the Cantigny First Division Foundation

Haunted by an ancestor's tale of near death on a distant battlefield, James Carl Nelson set out in pursuit of the scraps of memory of his grandfather's small infantry unit. Years of travel across the world led to the retrieval of unpublished personal papers, obscure memoirs, and communications from numerous Doughboys as well as original interviews of the descendents of his grandfather's comrades in arms. The result is a compelling tale of battle rooted in new primary sources, and one man's search for his grandfather's legacy in a horrifying maelstrom that is today poorly understood and nearly forgotten.

The Remains of Company D follows the members of Company D, 28th Infantry Regiment, United States First Division, from enlistment to combat to the effort to recover their remains, focusing on the three major battles at Cantigny, Soissons, and in the Meuse-Argonne and the effect these horrific battles had on the men.

This is an important and powerful tale of the different destinies, personalities, and motivations of the men in Company D and a timeless portrayal of men at war.

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About the author

James Carl Nelson is a journalist who has worked as a staff writer for The Miami Herald is the author of The Remains of Company D and The Five Lieutenants. He is a member of the Great War Society and the Military Writers Society of America. He lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
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Additional Information

Publisher
St. Martin's Press
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Published on
Oct 13, 2009
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9781429940344
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / World War I
History / United States / 20th Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time

The Proud Tower, the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Guns of August, and The Zimmerman Telegram comprise Barbara W. Tuchman’s classic histories of the First World War era

In this landmark, Pulitzer Prize–winning account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII, Tuchman traces each step that led to the inevitable clash. And inevitable it was, with all sides plotting their war for a generation. Dizzyingly comprehensive and spectacularly portrayed with her famous talent for evoking the characters of the war’s key players, Tuchman’s magnum opus is a classic for the ages.
 
Praise for The Guns of August
 
“A brilliant piece of military history which proves up to the hilt the force of Winston Churchill’s statement that the first month of World War I was ‘a drama never surpassed.’”—Newsweek
 
“More dramatic than fiction . . . a magnificent narrative—beautifully organized, elegantly phrased, skillfully paced and sustained.”—Chicago Tribune
 
“A fine demonstration that with sufficient art rather specialized history can be raised to the level of literature.”—The New York Times
 
“[The Guns of August] has a vitality that transcends its narrative virtues, which are considerable, and its feel for characterizations, which is excellent.”—The Wall Street Journal


From the Trade Paperback edition.
#1 New York Times Bestseller

From the bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. 

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. 

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.
An unforgettable human drama deep with contemporary resonance, award-winning historian James Carl Nelson's The Polar Bear Expedition draws on an untapped trove of firsthand accounts to deliver a vivid, soldier's-eye view of an extraordinary lost chapter of American history—the Invasion of Russia one hundred years ago during the last days of the Great War.

In the winter of 1919, 5,000 U.S. soldiers, nicknamed "The Polar Bears," found themselves hundreds of miles north of Moscow in desperate, bloody combat against the newly formed Soviet Union's Red Army. Temperatures plummeted to sixty below zero. Their guns and their flesh froze. The Bolsheviks, camouflaged in white, advanced in waves across the snow like ghosts.

The Polar Bears, hailing largely from Michigan, heroically waged a courageous campaign in the brutal, frigid subarctic of northern Russia for almost a year. And yet they are all but unknown today. Indeed, during the Cold War, two U.S. presidents, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, would assert that the American and the Russian people had never directly fought each other. They were spectacularly wrong, and so too is the nation's collective memory.

It began in August 1918, during the last months of the First World War: the U.S. Army's 339th Infantry Regiment crossed the Arctic Circle; instead of the Western Front, these troops were sailing en route to Archangel, Russia, on the White Sea, to intervene in the Russian Civil War. The American Expeditionary Force, North Russia, had been sent to fight the Soviet Red Army and aid anti-Bolshevik forces in hopes of reopening the Eastern Front against Germany. And yet even after the Great War officially ended in November 1918, American troops continued to battle the Red Army and another, equally formiddable enemy, "General Winter," which had destroyed Napoleon's Grand Armee a century earlier and would do the same to Hitler's once invincible Wehrmacht.

More than two hundred Polar Bears perished before their withdrawal in July 1919. But their story does not end there. Ten years after they left, a contingent of veterans returned to Russia to recover the remains of more than a hundred of their fallen brothers and lay them to rest in Michigan, where a monument honoring their service still stands.

In the century since, America has forgotten the Polar Bears' harrowing campaign. Russia, notably, has not, and as Nelson reveals, the episode continues to color Russian attitudes toward the United States. At once epic and intimate, The Polar Bear Expedition masterfully recovers this remarkable tale at a time of new relevance.

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