Friday, September 9, 2022

Tyler R. Bamford's "Forging the Anglo-American Alliance"

Tyler R. Bamford is a historian at the Naval History and Heritage Command.

He applied the Page 99 Test to his new book, Forging the Anglo-American Alliance: The British and American Armies, 1917-1941, and reported the following:
Readers who open Forging the Anglo-American Alliance to page 99 will find themselves dropped into the tumultuous aftermath of World War I. Trying to come to terms with the enormous losses of the Great War, some British and American writers feared the imminent decline of Western Civilization. Many Britons and Americans naturally responded by embracing pacifism, advocating disarmament, and decrying nationalism as an antidote to prewar militarism and arms races.

As page 99 explains, however, career British and American army officers took a very different view of the war. The destructiveness of the conflict reinforced their belief in maintaining a strong army as a guarantee of their nations’ security. The officers’ similar military perspective set them apart from popular mainstream writers of the Lost Generation such as Ernest Hemingway, Siegfried Sassoon, and Robert Graves, who emphasized the darker side of the war and captured the growing postwar cynicism of traditional institutions. Instead, army officers on both sides of the Atlantic accepted that war was a normal occurrence that was both necessary and glorious.

British and American officers’ wartime experience as allies also gave them many fond memories of fighting together. The wartime recollections of British and American officers provided common ground that allowed them to build friendships and trust with much greater ease than they had before the war. This was a crucial factor in expanding the personal relations that ultimately laid the groundwork for the British and American armies’ effective cooperation during World War II.

The Page 99 Test works remarkably well as a way for any potential reader to get a sense of the major themes in Forging the Anglo-American Alliance. This book endeavors to illustrate the many factors that drew British and American army officers together in the two decades prior to World War II, and page 99 discusses one of the most important, the legacy of World War I. Readers who choose to read the entire book will find the officers’ friendly relations all the more surprising in light of the hostility that many of their nations’ citizens harbored toward their former allies after the war. One of the major elements of the book that page 99 does not allude to is just how many areas in which British and American officers found common ground after World War I. They cooperated in policing their respective empires, occupying Germany, foiling alleged communist conspiracies, and sharing the latest military technologies. Yet even though page 99 is only a small extract, it is a representative sample of the book because, like the work as a whole, page 99 emphasizes the experiences and outlook of British and American soldiers and the strengthening links that drew them together.

The views and conclusions expressed above are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the Department of the Navy.
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--Marshal Zeringue