Never In Finer Company by Edward G. Lengel

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: Military egomaniacs get their men in a jam? You don’t say.

Quick synopsis: Story of the “Lost Battalion” in World War I.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Jokes about using pigeons to send messages are commonplace as jokes. I think people forget that it actually was a useful way to communicate in World War I. Don’t believe me? Read this and tell me Cher Ami isn’t a badass (bird).

Fun Fact for History Nerds: When the German’s started talking smack to the encircled Americans, they were surprised when vicious epithets were sent back in their own language. The diversity of New Yorkers wins again.

My Take: It’s a tale as old as time. A high-level military egomaniac creates a horrible situation because they don’t know how war works, someone else bails them out, and then they celebrate themselves as if it was the plan all along.

The Lost Battalion of World War I was 9 companies of the 77th Division which were dangerously forced beyond their fellow units to their left and right. Ultimately, they were encircled by German forces and were cut off for days.

Lengel takes the reader through the story of how the 77th was formed and their movements which allowed for the story to take place. Lengel mostly focuses on specific characters both in and out of the unit to give a full view of how the Lost Battalion changed many lives. Unfortunately, it was mostly for the worse.

The book is an easy and quick read by history nerd standards, but it’s much deeper than it seems. Lengel touches on a lot of things, such as PTSD and incompetent leadership, but doesn’t use too heavy a hand. His subjects are complex people in horrible situations and he recognizes that.

Verdict: Great book for anyone. Go read it.

If You Liked This Try:

  • Neal Bascomb, The Escape Artists
  • Laura MacDonald, Curse of the Narrows
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Never In Finer Company by Edward G. Lengel
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