With Their Bare Hands: General Pershing, the 79th Division, and the battle for Montfaucon

With Their Bare Hands is an in-depth account of one of the most devastating American battles of World War I. With a compelling narrative arc and plentiful detail, this historical yet vivid account of the 79th Division’s engagement at Montfaucon—part of the American Meuse-Argonne offensive in France, which took place in the fall of 1918—investigates a key battle generally given little notice by authors and historians. Although this battle exemplifies many of the problems and achievements of the AEF in the war and is a fascinating story in its own right, it has never been given a book-length treatment. This exhilarating new title follows the division from its origins in the draft of 1917 to the end of the war, using its experiences as a window into the nature of the American effort as a whole—mobilization, doctrine, training, shipment overseas, life in the trenches, combat (including learning from failures), armistice, and repatriation.

Gene Fax is an Official Partner of the U.S. World War I Commemorative Commission

Official Partner

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Photo Credit: U.S. Army Signal Corps

The Meuse-Argonne Was Not the Somme: The American Combat Experience in World War I

Published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History
Army History Magazine, Summer 2022
Go to p. 6

Benjamin Hotchkiss

The Strange Early History of American Machine Guns: Hotchkiss and Browning

The Artilleryman Magazine,
Vol. 41, No. 3, Summer 2020


Pershing’s “Open Warfare” Doctrine in the Light of American Military History

Published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History
Army History Magazine, Fall 2019
Go to p. 32


Charles G. Dawes: The Man Who Supplied the American Expeditionary Forces

This article was published in World War One Illustrated, the journal of the non-profit World War One Historical Association – www.ww1ha.org.

General John J. Pershing

Four Questions for Author Gene Fax

The United States World War One Centennial Commission and the Doughboy Foundation


History of War

"Here the Hundred Days Offensive is told through the eyes of the new kids on the block. Gene Fax’s book is a masterpiece of narrative history, focusing on one of the first American divisions to join the war effort and giving an invaluable look into the formation of the American Expeditionary Forces.  The training and experiences of the 79th Division make for compelling reading, and the book continually surprises (when it left for France, for instance, half the division had received no training.) It’s a brilliant look inside the workings of a World War I division."

--History of War

World War One Illustrated

"Gene Fax earned well-deserved praise for this very detailed presentation of the U.S. 79th Division’s famous assault on the heavily fortified German position on Montfaucon . . . Nicely written, filled with anecdotes, this terrific book was a finalist for a Distinguished Writing Award by the Army Historical Foundation."

--World War One Illustrated

Author Gene Fax
Gene Fax

My grandfather fought in the 313th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Division. When my brother and I were young, he would regale us with old-soldier stories. Sometime in the 1980s I tried to get his war service record, only to find that most of the personnel files from World War I were destroyed in a fire in 1973. As a substitute I read a history of his regiment, which first made me aware of the assault on Montfaucon; I learned that Company G, my grandfather’s company, had been the first to gain the top of the hill. Digging further, I discovered that little had been written about that bloody and important engagement, save for one or two pages in general histories of the AEF and a few articles in old, obscure military journals.