Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Best World War One "Freebie" — Ever!

The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) was created in 1923 to manage the country's overseas World War I cemeteries and memorials, part of the agency's work included the writing and publishing of American Armies and Battlefields in Europe: A History, Guide and Reference Book. 

The Meuse-Argonne Campaign:
One of Dozens of Helpful Maps in the Guide

A massive undertaking at the time, this now, nearly 600-page book was first published in 1927 to commemorate America's involvement in World War I. Originally titled A Guide to the American Battle Fields in Europe, the book served as a guide for Americans traveling overseas to visit World War I battle sites, cemeteries and memorials.

By 1938, the book was expanded with additional research to serve as a history of the American Expeditionary Forces' accomplishments. Among the contributing authors was Maj. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was assigned to ABMC by the Army in the 1920s. [He was the in-house expert on the St. Mihiel Offense, the exact area his armies would be fighting in during the fall of 1944.]

The Ruins of Avocourt:
One of Hundreds of Battlefield Photos in the Guide

If you have interest in following the Centennial of America's experience in the Great War, this is utterly essential for you. Thanks to the Virginia Tech Office of Digital Imagery and the ABMC this fantastic book is available for free downloading here in whole or by sections.


  1. Strongly agree with this post - the "Blue Book" is an absolutely essential book for anyone interested in the AEF.

  2. Hey! I have a 1927 edition of this wonderful book - complete with all the maps stored in a pocket on the back cover.

  3. I have a copy too, complete with maps but for some reason the photographs at the end of the book have been removed. I agree, it's a great resource.

  4. I downloaded the complete version but also downloaded the maps listed below the 8 maps from the "Major Maps" section as some of the maps were not unfolded in the main text.

    Steve Miller

  5. It is worth having copies of both the 1927 and the 1938 editions. There are several differences between the two editions, most notably the 1927 edition is quite a bit shorter than the 1938 edition. In many senses, the 1938 is the complete work that the ABMC (under Pershing's watchful eye) set out to produce shortly after the Commission was formed. I have read that the 1927 edition was put together quickly once it became clear that the American Legion was going to hold its 9th National Convention in Paris in Sep 1927.