Book Review: THE UNITED STATES IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA (edited by Anne Cipriano Venzon and Paul L. Miles (consulting editor)) : AH

8/11/2001 • American History Reviews, Woodrow Wilson

THE UNITED STATES IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA, edited by Anne Cipriano Venzon and Paul L. Miles (consulting editor), Garland Publishing, 856 pages, softcover, $39.95.

World War I not only initiated a significant development in the techniques of warfare, it also engendered a turning point in political history. From the beginning of the conflict, President Woodrow Wilson sensed the terrible consequences that could result if either side won a decisive victory, and he labored to promote a negotiated peace, right up to America’s entry into the war.

The United States in the First World War: An Encyclopedia is especially useful, since it looks at the war from a strictly American point of view. The work not only outlines the conflict’s military side but also includes entries about people like Carrie Chapman Catt, the feminist who urged women’s support of the war effort, and William Jennings Bryan, Wilson’s first secretary of state, who was basically a pacifist.

Military aspects are not downplayed, however, and the entry on the Second Battle of the Marne, in which the American Expeditionary Force participated, covers two full pages and presents an enlightening outline of the decisive encounter. The majority of the articles have limited bibliographic notations, which would facilitate further research, but the index is worth a special mention as it allows the reader to glean information from a cross section of encyclopedic entries. While this work is well done, it cannot stand alone in analyzing World War I but must be accompanied by a general knowledge of the strategies and tactics of its participants.

Jonas L. Goldstein is a retired naval officer who holds post-graduate degrees in history, management, and librarianship.