by Meighen McCrae
Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019. Pp. xxi, 274.
Maps, chron., diagr, tables., notes, biblio., index. $39.99. ISBN: 1108475302
Planning the End Game
Dr. McCrae (Australian National University), gives us the first comprehensive history of the Supreme War Council. Formed in late 1917, the primary mission of the SWC was to coordinate the Allied war effort for an eventual defeat of Germany and her allies in 1919, a matter often overlooked. The SWC was supposed to formulate a unified concept for victory, facilitate the arrival and deployment of massive American forces, and develop plans within the framework of a global conflict, though it was not until late March of 1918, in the face of a seemingly unstoppable German offensive, that the Allies got around to appointing a Supreme Commander.
McCrae tells this story well, in part by looking at the members of the council and a number of other critical actors, among them some very prickly characters, each in his own way trying to further the Allied cause, while furthering their national and personal agendas as well. She is rather good at managing the masses of data and calculations about troop strengths, shipping capacity, and the like, while keeping the narrative going.
McCrae tells us a lot, with chapters focused on plans for the Balkans, Middle East, Italian Front, and, of course, the Western Front. And she throws in some impressive surprises; even seasoned students of the war will be impressed by her treatment of J. F. C. Fuller’s widely touted “Plan 1919”, which she dismissed with a few cogent observations.
Coalition Strategy and the End of the First World War is a very important read for anyone seriously interested in the Great War and its consequences or in the problems of coalition warfare.
Note: Coalition Strategy and the End of the First World War is also available in several e-editions.
StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium