When publishing the feature article, “The Lonesome Death of Marvin Stainton” on this website, the Webmaster opened with these lines: “Few authors have researched participants of the Great War so well and have written so eloquently about their experiences as [author] Mr. Nelson. The Webmaster wishes that the lives of each individual soldier on both sides of this terrible conflict could be so well documented.” Robert J. Laplander and his book, “Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the rumors, myths and legends of America’s famous WW1 epic,” belong in that category too!
Robert has spent the better part of a few decades researching the events of 2 – 7 October, 1918 and the lives of the participants before, during and after that horrific time in the Argonne Forest. (As a comic side note, years ago the Webmaster was sitting next to a researcher for hire in the National Archives. When the topic of WW1 came up, he mentioned that he had done some research regarding Binarville for someone. His eyes lit up when the Webmaster asked if that was Robert Laplander.) As a result of this research, Robert tells the story authoritatively; but also with a writing style that makes it a wonderful read and transports the reader into the Pocket. The Webmaster was recently preparing for a tour recently, but he found it very difficult to put the book down and stay on track with his preparation.
He ends the book with these lines: “Then I turn to go, again saying a silent goodbye to the Pocket and to the ghosts of the Lost Battalion that remain there. I have tried to tell your story as completely and as honestly as I could. I hope I have done it justice.” The Webmaster believes that those ghosts would respond in the affirmative.
The one fault the Webmaster can find is that it is perhaps more book than one needs or wants on a single topic; coming in at 700-plus pages. Yet the reader who braves the length will be given a ring-side seat into one of the most defining events of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. For that reason, it is highly recommended.
Note: This third edition was published in 2017. The first edition appeared in 2006.