Book Review: America’s Greatest Blunder by Burton Yale Pines

Five Star Review – New Take on America’s Role in WWI

by Burton Yale Pines

Grab your note pad, because when you start reading this refreshing treatment of World War One History, you’ll want to be able to reference it again and again.  America’s Greatest Blunder is a thoroughly researched work presenting a critical analysis that is easy to read and digest.

I’ve always been fascinated with the complexities of history that resulted in the human tragedy that took place in the trenches during those years.  I thought I’d read most of the authoritative works on the subject, of which most were sited in the author’s bold and speculative analysis of the period.  America’s Greatest Blunder should be required reading at the National Defense University, the Service War Colleges, and U.S. State Department Foreign Service Institute.

From the outset Pines admits that the premise of this latest work is speculative.  He boldly states that had America not blundered into declaring war against Germany on 6 April 1917, the outcomes of the 20th Century would have been different and possibly less traumatic for humanity on the whole.  Pines presents a chronology of events from the very beginning when Arch Duke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, all the way through to the end when President Wilson was unable to get the United States Congress to ratify the Treaty of Versailles.

Throughout the presentation of this work, Pines supports his theory with solid evidence and a thoroughly researched rationale.  Unlike many historical works, Pines explains the “why” and “how” behind the key events that shaped the twentieth century.  Age-old lessons of history come through loud and clear.  For example, the single issue President Wilson offered congress in seeking a vote to declare war against Germany was the belligerent’s use of “unrestricted submarine warfare” against American shipping.  Pines reminds us that The United States had no Vital National Interests at stake and that the country was under no direct threat.

At the conclusion, it may seem that the author was pretty rough on President Woodrow Wilson’s execution of foreign policy.  However, the points made on the heels of such a well-supported work are, in retrospect, thought provoking.  The argument being that Wilson’s primary reason for caving in and abandoning his neutrality stance was to gain a position of influence while negotiating the terms of peace.  In Wilson’s case he wanted “peace without victory.”  The irony was that he mortgaged those principles for his agenda of establishing a “League of Nations.”  In the end, history continued to play out. What occurred was in Mr. Pines’s final analysis, just the opposite by phrasing the result as a “victory without peace.”

I highly recommend America’s Greatest Blunder as a “must read” not only for students of foreign policy and academicians of history, but for the casual reader as well.  This work has an extensive bibliography and the evidence the author uses to support each of his points is thoroughly sited.  However, the author’s writing style is smooth and easy to follow making the reading experience refreshing and enjoyable.

Readers can also enjoy a Q&A with the author on the book’s Amazon Sales Page:


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