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Formats
Open Ebook Ebook Details
  • 10/2020
  • 9781538141656
  • 296 pages
  • $27.50
Hardcover Book Details
  • 10/2020
  • 9781538141632
  • 296 pages
  • $94.00
Paperback Book Details
  • 10/2020
  • 9781538141649
  • 296 pages
  • $29.00
Yanks Behind the Lines: How the Commission for Relief in Belgium Saved Millions from Starvation During World War I

Adult; History & Military; (Market)

One of America’s finest hours in humanitarian aid is little-known today. During World War I, the nongovernmental US-led Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB) saved nearly ten million civilians from starvation in German-occupied Belgium and northern France, becoming the largest food relief program the world had ever seen. "Yanks Behind the Lines" interweaves the history of the time with fascinating personal stories of volunteers, diplomats, a young Belgian woman who started a dairy farm to feed Antwerp’s children, the autocratic head of the Belgian relief organization, and the founder of the American organization, who would become known to the world as the Great Humanitarian. Later, largely because of his work in Belgium and post-war Europe, the American leader of the CRB would become the thirty-first president of the United States -- Herbert Hoover.
Reviews
Jeffrey Miller (WWI Crusaders) delivers a gripping account of how private individuals in a U.S.-led effort saved millions from starvation during the First World War. When Belgium and areas of Northern France were unable to feed themselves under German occupation, the nongovernmental Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB), led by a young Herbert Hoover, toiled alongside the local Comité National de Secours et d’Alimentation (Comité National), the German government, the Allied powers, and several neutral countries to feed the hungry. Miller stays laser-focused on the diplomatic and logistical challenges of such a massive food operation without getting bogged down in minutia or details about the war, save when it directly relates to his topic, such as unrestricted submarine warfare or the background events of the Zimmermann telegram.

The story is full of drama that Miller sketches well, particularly tensions between the CRB and Comité National, and between Hoover and everyone else. In the initial rush of donations to Belgium, Hoover fought to ensure CRB was in control of relief. Miller’s dedication to facts rather than speculation means he leaves it to readers to wonder about how much of Hoover’s motivation in these disputes was humanitarian and how much was arrogance. (Miller quotes an expert who touts Hoover’s “ingenuity in persuading or bullying the various Powers” to get international actors to compromise.) The self-giving spirit of the CRB delegates, mostly young volunteers spread throughout Belgium, shines through Miller’s narrative, however, especially in the anecdote of a delegate arrested by German authorities under false pretenses.

Particularly helpful are period photographs and Miller’s statistical charts, helping readers stay oriented and personalizing the humanitarians who founded the first international nongovernmental organization. History buffs will be eager to learn the struggles of the Belgian and northern French during the war as well as the courage and fortitude of those who sacrificed to feed the desperate.

Takeaway: This compelling chronicle will grip history buffs while opening their eyes to a little known but vitally important humanitarian mission.

Great for fans of: John Keegan’s The First World War, Tom Scott-Smith’s On an Empty Stomach: Two Hundred Years of Hunger Relief.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: B
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Britain at War Magazine

"A huge impact of war that is rarely talked about is the near starvation suffered by millions. Jeffrey B. Miller tells this riveting tale about American volunteers who attempted to save millions from dying of hunger during World War One. This is one of the largest humanitarian aid efforts ever made and the account of how it happened is well overdue. The Commission for Relief in Belgium was founded by . . . Herbert Hoover—and this story alone is extraordinary. Miller uses testimony, including an unpublished account of the commission’s work. What lifts this book above many is the personal testimony; his own grandparents helped to provide food for Belgian citizens. A heart-warming read.” 

Dayton Duncan, Author and Filmmaker

Jeffrey Miller’s Yanks behind the Lines brings to life a little-known but hugely important and absolutely inspiring story: how nearly ten million civilians in German-occupied Belgium during World War I were saved from starvation, thanks to a group of idealistic Americans, led by a young organizational genius named Herbert Hoover. This was the shining moment when the United States first stepped upon the world stage as a generous force for all humanity. A moment worth the retelling––and remembering.

Ed Klekowski, Editor WWI Illustrated Magazine

"An important and unique contribution to World War I histories, Jeff Miller’s meticulously researched book fills the void of an often-forgotten aspect of the war: US humanitarian efforts. This is a beautifully written story about one of America’s finest hours."

Foreword Reviews, Clarion 4 out of 5

“Miller emphasizes not the dubious glories of war, but war’s impact on ordinary people, and the amazing feats that people can achieve when they are determined enough. World War I brought unprecedented chaos and carnage, he shows, but it also sparked an outpouring of charity greater than anyone thought possible. This book is a worthy testament to everyone who participated in this admirable endeavor.”

George Nash, Biographer of Herbert Hoover

"InYanks behind the Lines, Jeffrey B. Miller sheds welcome light on one of the noblest episodes in modern American history: the pioneering humanitarian relief mission, led by Herbert Hoover, that saved millions of Belgian and French civilians from starvation during World War I. Americans should learn this remarkable story, which Miller—a gifted chronicler—tells with acuity and verve."

Kirkus Review, "Get It" Recommendation

“Miller brings a complex story to vivid life, astutely explaining the political and cultural landscape of Belgium but also the unfolding of the conflict. . . This is a powerful work of history, as informative as it is dramatically gripping. An impressive blend of painstaking historical scholarship and riveting storytelling.”

Margaret Hoover, PBS Host of Firing Line with Margaret Hoover

"It will be a revelation for many Americans to discover Jeff Miller's excellent account of the ‘piratical state organized for benevolence,’ which helped position the United States as a moral force for good in the world at the outbreak of the 20th century's first world war. Herbert Hoover's leadership in the enterprise may come as an even greater surprise, and Miller's knowledgeable account unveils this forgotten history for us all."

Professor Branden Little, Weber State University

Yanks behind the Lines is a fascinating portrait of America’s First World War. Exploring a vital but little-known chapter of humanitarian intervention, Miller establishes the centrality of saving Belgium and France from famine to the American war experience.

US Review of Books, "Recommends" Review

“A valuable and formidable addition to World War I scholarship . . . [Miller] is as fascinated by the account as he wants his readers to be absorbed and moved by it. Through tireless research and sheer literary skill, he accomplishes his task. Supported by notes, sources, and reader aids, this studious effort is worth the time of anyone interested in gripping real-life stories behind weighty historical truths.”

News
10/14/2020
Author Interview

Jeffrey B. Miller was interviewed on KEXL morning radio in Iowa. You can hear the interview at the link below. 

10/16/2020
Author Zoom Presentation for Hoover Presidential Foundation

Jeffrey B. Miller conducted an hour Zoom presentation for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Foundation in Iowa. More than 100 participants signed up for the presentation. You can see it at the link below. 

10/22/2020
Book Trailer on YouTube

A two-and-a-half minute video was created for Yanks Behind the Lines. It can be found on YouTube at the link below. 

03/12/2021
Yanks is a National Finalist

DENVER—Award-winning author Jeffrey B. Miller is pleased to announce that YANKS BEHIND THE LINES (Rowman & Littlefield, Oct. 2020), about one of America’s finest hours in humanitarian aid that’s little known today, has been recognized as a Finalist in the 23rd annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards.Miller hopes the finalist recognition brings greater awareness of the book’s forgotten story. “More than 100 years ago,” Miller says, “a small band of Americans founded and supervised the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB) that helped save nearly 10 million civilians trapped behind German lines during the four years of World War I. It became the largest food relief program the world had ever seen. It’s a story that deserves to be told and remembered.”The book has already won critical acclaim from two of publishing’s most prestigious review companies: Kirkus Reviews states, “This is a powerful work of history, as informative as it is dramatically gripping. An impressive blend of painstaking historical scholarship and riveting storytelling.” Publishers Weekly Booklife, named it an “Editor’s Pick” and states, “Jeffrey B. Miller delivers a gripping account . . . This compelling chronicle will grip history buffs while opening their eyes to a little known but vitally important humanitarian mission.”Foreword Magazine, Inc. hosts an annual awards program as part of its mission to discover, review, and share the best books from university and independent publishers. Finalists represent the best books published in 2020. After more than 2,000 individual titles spread across 55 genres were submitted for consideration, the Finalists were determined by Foreword’s editorial team. Winners will be decided by an expert team of booksellers and librarians—representing Foreword’s trade readership—from across the country. The complete list of Finalists can be found at: https://www.forewordreviews.com/awards/finalists/2020/“The pandemic did not slow down the quality of great books coming from the independent publishing community in 2020. The Finalist selection process this year was one of the hardest our team encountered due to the vast number of excellent submissions,” said Victoria Sutherland, publisher.

Formats
Open Ebook Ebook Details
  • 10/2020
  • 9781538141656
  • 296 pages
  • $27.50
Hardcover Book Details
  • 10/2020
  • 9781538141632
  • 296 pages
  • $94.00
Paperback Book Details
  • 10/2020
  • 9781538141649
  • 296 pages
  • $29.00

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