WWI

Trench Dogs: A Graphic Novel About WWI

Mark interviews Ian Densford, an artist and animator whose graphic novel, Trench Dogs, draws its inspiration from a collection of first-hand accounts from WW1. This fictional story of World War I is an anthropomorphic retelling of that global conflict and the soldiers who experienced the horrors of the front lines and high seas.

More Information About Trench Dogs

While the nightmares of World War I and the aftermath are sometimes forgotten, this book asks the reader to look again and remember the dead, and to weigh their number against those who would choose war. Conceived as a long, continuous camera pan through the trenches and beyond, the reader is soon buried in mud, corpses, and ruin, emerging on the other side with blurred recollections of lost comrades and a nagging sense of pointless destruction. Ian Densford’s graphic watercolors paired with a spattering of onomatopoeic utterings create an unforgiving tale of the “war to end all wars.”

Order a copy of Trench Dogs >>

Trench Dogs Study Guide

Trench Dogs is based upon actual events and hundreds of photo, film and illustrated references. It is meant to showcase events and introduce subjects from soldiers view at the front, not the politics and territorial gains from a broader overview. This study guide is to help decipher the events depicted, but further research is always needed.

Download a PDF of the Trench Dogs Study Guide >>

 

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

Joel Bius’s new book, Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em: The Rise and Fall of the Military Cigarette Ration, is a treatise on the relationship between the American Military-Industrial complex and the cigarette. Mark and Joel discuss the story of how the cigarette and the soldier relationship evolved, developed and devolved during the twentieth century—and the consequences.

About Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

The American military-industrial complex and accompanying culture are most often associated with massive weapons procurement programs and advanced technologies. Images of supersonic bombers, strategic missiles, armor-plated tanks, nuclear submarines, and complex space systems clog our imagination. However, one aspect of the complex is not a weapon or even a machine, but one of the world’s most highly engineered consumer products: the manufactured cigarette.

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em describes the origins of the often comfortable, yet increasingly controversial relationship among the military, the cigarette industry, and tobaccoland politicians during the twentieth century. After fostering the relationship between soldier and cigarette for more than five decades, the Department of Defense and fiscally minded legislators faced formidable political, cultural, economic, and internal challenges as they fought to unhinge the soldier-cigarette bond they had forged.

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em is also a study in modern American political economy. Bureaucrats, soldiers, lobbyists, government executives, legislators, litigators, or anti-smoking activists all struggled over far-reaching policy issues involving the cigarette. The soldier-cigarette relationship established by the Army in World War I and broken apart in the mid-1980s underpinned one of the most prolific social, cultural, economic, and healthcare related developments in the twentieth century: the rise and proliferation of the American manufactured cigarette smoker and the powerful cigarette enterprise supporting them.

From 1918 to 1986, the military established a powerful subculture of cigarette-smoking soldiers. The relationship was so rooted that, after the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report warned Americans that cigarettes were hazardous to health, a further 22 years were needed to advance military smoking cessation as official policy, and an additional 16 years to sever government subsidies providing soldiers low-cost cigarettes. The role of wars and the military in establishing and entrenching the American cigarette-smoking culture has often gone unrecognized. Using the manufactured cigarette as a vehicle to explore political economy and interactions between the military and American society, Joel R. Bius helps the reader understand this important, yet overlooked aspect of 20th century America.

The Lost Battalion of WWI

Major Whittlesey (right) talking to Major Kenny, 307. Infantry, after the battle. Kennys 3rd battalion took part in the relief attempts for the "Lost Battalion."

Major Whittlesey (right) talking to Major Kenny, 307. Infantry, after the battle. Kennys 3rd battalion took part in the relief attempts for the “Lost Battalion.”

Mark’s guest is Robert J. Laplander who wrote the book, Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legends of America’s Famous WWI Epic. They discuss the deep research Laplander did in order to tell the story of the soldiers and their commander, Charles Whittlesey and their grueling ordeal by fire in the Argonne Forest. This definitive work follows these men of the 77th Division and chronicles their lives and sacrifices in battle during September and October 1918.

November Events in History

We review some significant November events in history from WWI to the American Revolution as well as the American Civil War and WWII. We include the First Battle of Ypres in 1914 and the 1918 Armistice that ended the bloodshed of WWI as well as the last action of the Civil War with the surrender of the CSS Shenandoah and a brief glimpse at one of the Confederate government’s most interesting characters. For WWII we have the scuttling of the French fleet in 1942 while the Germans watched their potential prize of warships sink to the bottom of the sea.

Photo: Marshall Ferdinand Foch, Supreme Allied Commander during World War One.

CSS Shenandoah

CSS Shenandoah destroying Union whaling vessels in the Pacific.

WWI with Gary Sheffield – Part II

Professor Gary Sheffield, one of Britain’s foremost experts on WWI, returns to offer insightful analysis of the end of WWI.  Mark and Professor Sheffield discuss America’s participation in the Great War, the conclusion of hostilities, the Armistice of 11 November 1918 and the Versailles Treaty. Mark draws from Professor Sheffield’s new release of “The First World War,” published in association with the Imperial War Museum, as well as his earlier work, “Forgotten Victory.”

WWI Tank stranded in a trench.

WWI Tank stranded in a trench. Crew survived 3 days of gunfire and explosive attacks.

Pershing at Lafayette's tomb

General John J. Pershing at Lafayette’s Tomb

WWI with Gary Sheffield – Part I

Professor Gary Sheffield, one of Britain’s foremost experts on WWI, discusses his new edition book The First World War, published in association with the Imperial War Museum. Mark and Professor Sheffield review the War up until the end and American involvement in 1918. They cover the major events in the great cataclysm as well as some lesser known, yet important and intriguing aspects of the war.

Photo: Marshal Joseph Joffre, French Commander-in-Chief

Autumn Events in History

On this week’s podcast, I take a look at some events that happened in autumn during WWII and the Civil War, as well as WWI and the American Revolution. I discuss the 1918 Meuse-Argonne offensive by the America Expeditionary Forces and the French army. Launched against the Germans on the Western Front, this final campaign led to the Armistice. I also look at the momentous events that took place at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781. Again, with the aid of the French, this battle proved to be the final military blow for the British in the American war for independence.

Photo: By John Singleton Copley – First Foot Guards, Public Domain

August History Happenings and Fall Preview

This week Mark takes a look at some events that happening during the month of August in WWII and the Civil War, including the Siege of Leningrad, the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, the infamous Quantrill’s Raiders and Nathan Bedford Forrest’s raid on Memphis. He also previews upcoming fall episodes that cover Antietam, the Allied Bombing of France in 1944, and a new WWI book by one of Britain’s foremost WWI experts.

History with Mark Bielski Tentative Fall Schedule

This fall, Mark will be interviewing some fascinating guests for his History with Mark Bielski Podcast. From legendary football coach Vince Dooley to an onsite visit with the curator of the Dr. Samuel Mudd House and Museum, you won’t want to miss these episodes.

Sept. 6 – General Jack Mountcastle – Touring Civil War Battlefields in the East

General Jack Mountcastle joins Mark to discuss the Battle of Second Manassas, a major Confederate victory in 1862 that gave General Lee the momentum to invade Maryland in September. They will also talk about the Civil War: Hallowed Ground Tour that Jack leads for Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. The tour covers Manassas as well as the other key events in the Eastern theatre. They will explore the strategies, leaders on both sides of the war, and specific actions taken during the battle and leading up to the fight. It’s the closest thing to going to the battlefield itself.

Sept. 13 – Professor Steve Bourque – Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France

Mark and Professor Steve Bourque will discuss his new book, Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France, a subject rarely studied. The book is a survey of events, destruction and civilian casualties caused by Allied bombing.

Sept. 20 – General Jack Mountcastle – 150th Anniversary of Antietam

In September, the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, Mark and General Jack Mountcastle will cover the battle, the bloodiest day of combat on U.S. soil. More than 23,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were reported killed, wounded or missing during 12 hours of fighting with no clear winner.

Sept. 27 – History Happenings for September

Mark will talk about some of the interesting historical events that occurred during WWII and the Civil War in the month of September.

Oct. 4 – Dorothea Barstow – Curator of the Dr. Samuel Mudd House and Museum

Mark visits the Dr. Samuel Mudd House and Museum, where he interviews the curator, Dorothea Barstow, at the Mudd home where the Doctor who set John Wilkes Booth’s leg lived. They discuss the doctor’s life, career, trial and possibly unfair imprisonment and release.

Oct. TBD – Vince Dooley – The Legion’s Fighting Bulldogs

Mark is excited to chat with legendary football coach Vince Dooley. They will be discussing Dooley’s book, The Legion’s Fighting Bulldogs and football history. During the 25 years he was the University of Georgia football coach, his teams won six SEC titles and the 1980 national championship. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the American Battlefield Trust/Civil War Trust.

Oct. TBD – Gary Sheffield – World War I

Mark and Professor Gary Sheffield, a noted British military historian, discuss Sheffield’s comprehensive new book, Forgotten Victory: The First World War: Myths and Realities. Prof. Sheffield is a frequent contributor to the BBC.

Oct. TBD – History Happenings for October

Mark will talk about some of the interesting historical events that occurred during WWII and the Civil War in the month of October.

 

 

Trench Dogs

An interview with Ian Densford, artist, and animator, who has just published his graphic novel, Trench Dogs. A book that draws its inspiration from a collection of first-hand accounts from WW1.

More information about Trench Dogs

Inspired from assorted first-hand accounts, this fictional story of World War I is an anthropomorphic retelling of that global conflict and the soldiers who experienced the horrors of the front lines and high seas. While horse drawn carts and trains were ordinary sights, automobiles, tanks, submarines, and airplanes made their wartime debuts alongside machine guns, poison gas, and flame throwers. While the nightmares of World War I and the aftermath are sometimes forgotten, this book asks the reader to look again and remember the dead, and to weigh their number against those who would choose war. Conceived as a long, continuous camera pan through the trenches and beyond, the reader is soon buried in mud, corpses, and ruin, emerging on the other side with blurred recollections of lost comrades and a nagging sense of pointless destruction. Ian Densford’s graphic watercolors paired with a spattering of onomatopoeic utterings create an unforgiving tale of the “war to end all wars.”

Click here to pre-order a copy of Trench Dogs>>

 

Christmas in Wartime – Part I

War brings few joyous moments. Over the years, Christmas time has provided a few glimmers of warmth. From a surprise victory for George Washington, to mules masquerading as reindeer in the Civil War, to a flare-lit soccer game between Brits and Germans in WWI, Mark shares some wartime Christmas memories.