Friday, August 19, 2016

I Will Hold book review

One of the perks of blogging is that publishers reach out to me from time to time with books for review.  Sometimes its Civil War and sometimes its general history.  Recently I received "I Will Hold: The Story of USMC Legend Clifton B. Cates, from Belleau Wood to Victory in the Great War" by James Carl Nelson.  I said yes to this book because World War I interests me, I had two relatives (that I know of) that participated in the war.  I truthfully had no idea who Clifton Cates was.

After reading this book I am very impressed by Cates service.  He was everywhere with the Marines, got in a ton of action and somehow escaped without being wounded, while everyone around him seemed to get wounded.  As some of you know Cates eventually became commandant of the Marine Corps, so this is not just the story of a good field commander but is actually the story of a true Marine legend (like the subtitle says).

It was interesting to hear how the Marine Corps came to prominence during the war.  Before the war the Marines were relatively unknown despite having been around for a long time.  But during one of the charges in the early stages of the Belleau Wood fight the newspaper correspondent with them was severely wounded, blinded actually.  When the story hit the censor's desk he was sure the author would be dead soon so he let the the story go in without deletions, as a tribute to the author.  It was practice at the time to not put unit designations in stories, both to not reveal much but also because it could create jealousy between units.  The Marines were highly written about in the story and it became a major story in papers across the country.  It also happened that the author did not die.

My only complaint of the book was that it needed map(s).  I don't know the battlefields of WWI at all, so that got a bit confusing.  I had an advance reading copy and have been told that the final version will have at least some maps.  I'd recommend this book for anyone wanting to hear a good WWI story.

UPDATE:  I received a final copy of the book after this post was first published and it indeed has a theater map, as well as pictures of Cates, his fellow soldiers and war scenes.

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