Blinn College-Bryan history presentation spotlights World War I’s ‘Lost Battalion’

Author and historian Edward G. Lengel will discuss his new book, ‘Never in Finer Company: The Men of the Great War’s Lost Battalion’

February 13, 2019

Never in Finer CompanyThe Blinn College District’s Division of Social Sciences will bring one of the most heroic events in American military history to life when author and historian Edward G. Lengel discusses his latest book, “Never in Finer Company: The Men of the Great War’s Lost Battalion” on the Blinn College-Bryan Campus.

Lengel’s presentation will take place at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, in T Building Room 124 (map). The 45-minute presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session. Admission is free and open to the public.

“Never in Finer Company” tells the larger-than-life story of World War I’s “Lost Battalion” and the men who survived the ordeal, triumphed in battle, and fought the demons that lingered. In the first week of October 1918, approximately 600 men attacked into Europe’s forbidding Argonne Forest. Against all odds, they surged through enemy lines – alone.

The battalion was surrounded and besieged, withstanding constant bombardment and relentless enemy assaults even as they ran out of ammunition, food, and water. When they walked out of the forest seven days later, only 194 soldiers from the original unit survived.

In “Never in Finer Company,” Lengel tells the stories of four men whose lives were changed forever by the ordeal: Major Charles Whittlesey, a lawyer dedicated to serving his men at any cost; Captain George McMurtry, a New York stockbroker who became a tower of strength under fire; Corporal Alvin York, a country farmer whose famous exploits helped rescue his beleaguered comrades; and Damon Runyon, an intrepid newspaper man who interviewed the survivors and wove their experiences into the American epic.

Lengel earned his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, where he directed the Washington Papers Project for many years. He then served as Chief Historian of the White House Historical Association and wrote the new history of Colonial Williamsburg as a “Revolutionary in Residence.” Now a professional author, speaker, and battlefield tour guide, Lengel has written several books on George Washington and World War I.

Lengel is a co-recipient of the National Humanities Medal and has won two writing awards from the Army Historical Foundation. He makes frequent television and radio appearances on The History Channel, Fox News, SiriusXM, and National Public Radio and appears on the World War I Centennial Commission’s weekly podcast.

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