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Publisher's Summary

At first light on Tuesday, May 28th, 1918, waves of American riflemen from the US Army's First Division climbed from their trenches, charged across the shell-scarred French dirt of no-man's-land, and captured the hilltop village of Cantigny from the grip of the German Army. Those who survived the enemy machine-gun fire and hand-to-hand fighting held on for the next two days and nights in shallow foxholes under the sting of mustard gas and crushing steel of artillery fire.

Thirteen months after the United States entered World War I, these 3,500 soldiers became the first "doughboys" to enter the fight. The operation, the first American attack ever supported by tanks, airplanes, and modern artillery, was ordered by the leader of America's forces in Europe, General John "Black Jack" Pershing, and planned by a young staff officer, Lieutenant Colonel George C. Marshall, who would fill the lead role in World War II 26 years later.

Drawing on the letters, diaries, and reports by the men themselves, Matthew J. Davenport's First Over There tells the inspiring, untold story of these soldiers and their journey to victory on the Western Front in the Battle of Cantigny.

©2015 Matthew J. Davenport. (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"From the 'creeping barrage' of artillery to the eventual American victory, the reader will hear every explosion, feel each bullet whiz past, and sometimes cry at the loss of a comrade. This is brilliant work for every library." ( Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bruce Miller
  • Louisville, Kentucky and San Diego, California
  • 02-28-18

Very personal insight into a historic battle

Excellent story in all regards; a very personal insight into the historic achievements of the 1st Inf Div, Duty First. The epilogue was equally informative as it continued the story with summaries of how many of the survivors continued their lives after the war. The extensive research by the author brought this book to life.

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Over and over and over.................

Would you try another book from Matthew J. Davenport and/or Mel Foster?

Yes to both

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I don't know - stopped reading just over half way.Grew weary of "he fell dead" etc etc etc....

What does Mel Foster bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I don't know.

Was First Over There worth the listening time?

Sort of.

Any additional comments?

Enjoyed parts about Senator Sam Ervin D NC.His taking a demotion from commissioned officer to PFC just to remain in the war was remarkable.This after he was cleared of a dereliction of duty charge.

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Major account of a historic minor battle

Davenport does an excellent job intertwining into his narrative first hand accounts of young doughboys and their officers tasked with taking an insignificant town on the Western front in the Spring of 1918. While the strategic value of the town was limited, the resolve and effectiveness of the American troops showed the world the United States was an emerging power. The show of force and resolve was carefully planned by senior officers in the 1st Army but only possible through the leadership of young captains, lieutenants NCOS and individual soldiers. Their tales of duty, fear, pain, suffering and the death of themselves and their fellow soldiers reminds readers causality reports during this great conflict were not just numbers, but stories of the men and their families.