January 15, 2008

Book Review - The Big Red One

The Big Red One: America's Legendary 1st Inflantry Division from World War I to Desert Storm
James Scott Wheeler
UA 27.5 .W485 2007

Wheeler, himself a combat veteran, chronicles and analyzes the combat engagements and peacetime duties of the longest continuously serving division in the United States Army. The 1st Division was first to see combat and to achieve success during World War I. It was one of few divisions to survive intact between the wars and often led attacks during World War II, where it saw action in the major battles in the European and North African theaters. Although not deployed to Korea, the 1st Division fought extensively in Vietnam and again took a leading role in the liberation of Kuwait and peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo. Wheeler asserts that the 1st Division pioneered or practiced many of the strategies and innovations that are characteristic of today's Army. In the 1930's, the 1st Division was one of the first to train for amphibious warfare. By the end of World War II, it was successfully using Regimental Combat Teams and running night operations. Similarly in Vietnam, the 1st Division pioneered air-mobile operations. While this certainly is a history that focuses on this one proud unit, Wheeler's book is reflective of trends, innovations, and the trajectory of American military development over the past century.