Founded in 2012, the U.S. Military History Group (USMHG) is a not-for-profit organization supporting the U.S. Military History Review, a peer-reviewed e-journal devoted to the military history of the United States. The USMHG also recognizes exceptional scholarship in this field through three annual book awards.



The U.S. Military History Group is pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 Master Corporal Jan Stanislaw Jakobczak Memorial Book Award.  This award recognizes the outstanding book published between January 2014 and June 2015 and covers any topic in U.S. Military History from 1917 to 1945.

A committee of three award-winning historians chose Edward G. Lengel’s Thunder and Flames: Americans in the Crucible of Combat, 1917-1918 to receive the 2015 Jakobczak Book Award.

Edward G. Lengel is Professor of History and Director of the Papers of George Washington at the University of Virginia.

His book was published in 2015 in the “Modern War Studies” series by the University Press of Kansas.

Praise from the selection committee members:

"Thunder and Flames is the first comprehensive examination of the often-overlooked early battles of the AEF, when American units fought under French control, prior to the establishment of the American First Army and the Battle of St. Mihiel. Lengel provides new and valuable insights into American-French cooperation, the painful learning curve at the hands of an experienced enemy, and the not insignificant contributions of fresh American forces often thrown into the breach at critical times and places."  --Peter Kindsvatter

Thunder and Flames draws from an impressive range of sources, and they have been critically and meticulously assessed by the author. He is therefore able to portray the World War I experience and the fighting from different angles which provides new insights for the reader. Among the many publications about World War I, Thunder and Flames stands out because of its mercilessly balanced description and an outstanding analysis of the battles.”  --Jörg Muth

Thunder and Flames is a well-crafted and insightful analysis of the painful transformation of the AEF from an inexperienced, over-confident assemblage of late-comers to the Western Front into an effective and lethal fighting force.  Author Edward Lengel takes special pains in documenting the critical role played by the French Army in training the Americans, as well as the strong and often contentious relationship between the two allies. Using a wealth of official, secondary, and personal accounts, he reveals a nuanced and sometimes disturbing -- to national pride -- story often clouded by time, myth, and received wisdom. Bravo!”   --Geoffrey Rossano


The distinguished members of the award selection committee agreed that a second book stood out from among the other submissions and thus merits an “Honorable Mention” for the 2015 Master Corporal Jan Stanislaw Jakobczak Memorial Book Award.

The committee chose The Dead and Those About to Die: D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach by John McManus to receive the “Honorable Mention.”

The committee praised McManus for his “ability to clearly present a lucid, understandable portrait of a completely chaotic event. . . . [U]se of after action reports and other contemporary documents to flesh out, humanize, and drive the story forward was outstanding. The author, it seems to me, was in total command of the material.”

John McManus is the Curators’ Professor of History at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.