Edward Lengel, Never in Finer Company: The Men of the Great War’s Lost Battalion

Date(s) - 10/17/18
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Pritzker Military Library

Hosted by
Pritzker Military Museum & Library

Edward Lengel, Never in Finer Company: The Men of the Great War’s Lost Battalion

Pritzker Military Museum & Library

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 6:00pm

Author Ed Lengel visits the Museum & Library to discuss his book about the Lost Battalion in WWI. Sponsored by the United States World War One Centennial Commission.

The most dramatic week in American military history took place just weeks before the First World War ended. In the first week of October 1918, six hundred men charged into the forbidding Argonne Forest. Against all odds, they surged through enemy lines–alone. They were soon surrounded and besieged. As they ran out of ammunition, water, and food, the battalion withstood constant mortar attack and relentless enemy assaults. Seven days later, only 194 soldiers from the original unit walked out of the forest. The stand of the Army’s “Lost Battalion” was–and remains–an unprecedented display of heroism under fire.

The narrative of Never in Finer Company focuses on the stories of four men: the battalion’s commander, Major Charles Whittlesey, a lawyer eager to prove his mettle; his New York stockbroker executive officer, Captain George McMurtry; Sergeant Alvin York, whose famous exploits help rescue the battalion; and Damon Runyon, the soon-to-be-famous newspaperman who struggled to understand the events he witnessed. From the patriotic frenzy that sent young men “over there” to the hurried stateside training, shipping overseas, and encounters with life at the front, each man trod a unique path to the October days that engulfed them. And their stories did not end on the battlefield–each man was haunted by the experience as America tried to come to grips with the carnage of the war.

Character-rich, abundantly textured, sometimes tragic, sometimes uplifting, but always compelling, Never in Finer Company is a deeply moving and dramatic story on an epic scale.

EDWARD G. LENGEL  has published books in military history on World War I and the Revolutionary War, including To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918–The Epic Battle That Ended the First World War and First Entrepreneur: How George Washington Built His–and the Nation’s–Prosperity. He has contributed articles for Military History, Military History Quarterly, American Heritage, American History, History Now, and Humanities. He has made numerous TV appearances on History Channel and other networks and appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition with Rachel Martin and All Things Considered with Robert Siegel. He is currently Chief Historian of the White House and was formerly Editor-in-Chief of the Papers of George Washington.