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on March 4, 2012
"The Romanian Battlefront in WW I" is not just the one of the few English-language books on its subject, but it stands comparison with the best English-language studies of any individual country's armed forces in WWI.
Mr. Torrey has remedied this situation, his book being an excellent study to a subject unjustly ignored by many English-speaking historians; to date, I believe it is one of the few comprehensive accounts of Romania's military involvement in WW I in English. Very well written and organized, containing 17 comprehensive chapters on (mainly) military operations (plus Conclusions and an Epilogue) and illustrated with many maps and photos, it is invaluable for anyone interested in operations on the Eastern Front in WW I. Based not only on access to Romanian military archives but also on additional studies provided by German, Austrian, Italian archives etc, Mr. Torrey's book contains an detailed, chronological account of military operations on Romanian Front during 1916-1918 and even immediate postwar actions in 1919 in Hungary. Additionally, the author inspired from relevant Romanian and non-Romanian secondary sources such as published documents, memoirs, specialized studies etc.
After a short preface, the first two chapters describe the Romania's political (leaders, geopolitical factors, alliances, etc) and military (war plans, strengths, etc) situation at the beginning of the war. This short, balanced background information about the country and its political and military leaders is useful, since most readers are unlikely to have detailed knowledge of Romania in that period of time. It also provides a helpful context for Romania's two years of negotiation with the Entente countries.
In spite of its great numbers, the Romanian army entered the war poorly armed and trained when compared with its numerous (neighbor) opponents (Germany, Austro-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria). As the author mentioned in his book, the Romanian army spent most of the initial war period fighting with obsolete weapons and without the full training that would have made them a force equal to any of the major armies. Moreover, the country was in a very vulnerable geostrategic position and the Romanian General Staff (created in 1882, after the 1877-78 War for Independence) lacked professionalism and war experience.
Chapter 3 ("On the eve of war") is focused on political and military decisions, including the Central Powers' fault in miscalculating Romania's entry in war on Entente side, coupled with interesting accounts about the operations on Macedonian theater of war and the German strategy vis-à-vis Romanian threat.
"The invasion of Transylvania", the outbreak of the war, started with a complete surprise of the enemy troops. However, the initial Romanian ease advance was somehow timid due to the fact that many commanders lacked initiative and daring to penetrate much more in the heart of this Provence, against an inferior enemy (only 15 battalions). Thanks to a grotesque chain of mistakes and indecision, for a whole week, Romanian forces stood passive in front of town of Sibiu which was barely defended. As we could see in the next chapters this allowed Central Powers to concentrate over 40 divisions from other fronts, half of them German (among them Alpine Corps and Wurttemberg Mountain Battalion), and to regain the strategic initiative.
Chapters 5&6 show the operations on the Dobrogean Front since Central Powers decided to answer the invasion of Transylvania with an attack on Romania's southern border. As accurately described in this book, the Romanian and later, Russian, attempt to defend Dobrogea (The fall of Turtucaia fortress, Flamanda maneuver etc) during the first two months of the war, was a costly affair. Apart of losing the territory the personnel losses were heavy. As elsewhere, the German support proved decisive at all levels and I personally believe that Bulgarians and Turks couldn't win this campaign on their own.
Chapters 7 to 10 are dedicated to the Austro-German counteroffensive in Transylvania, battles on the frontiers, the struggle to defend Wallachia and the retreat to Moldovia. In my view, as throughout the book, Mr. Torrey presents the facts quite objectively, sparing neither side from criticism where it is due.
The book contains an incredible insight into the Romanian High Command faulty decision making process that led eventually to lose about two-thirds of Romanian national territory.
After the alert description of the military operations on different parts of the Romanian front, the author made, in a rather slow pace, but comprehensive description of the reconstruction of the Romanian Army after losing over 300,000 troops in the 1916 campaign. This transitional chapter is very important for the reader due to several reasons. It shows the environment of reconstruction, the morale & welfare factor, rearmament and last, but not least, the role of the French Military Mission in Romania (led by General Berthelot). Mr. Torrey's study is also interesting and can fuel a debate about the Coalition warfare relationship of both sides during that period. Despite points of tensions and cultural barriers, as author turned out, the different players from both sides cooperated quite well during the conflict.
The new weapons provided by the France proved decisive, Romanian division's firepower being comparable to that of German divisions and even superior to that of other Central Powers forces. As Mr. Torrey state, this augmented armament allowed implementation of new tactical approaches on firepower use similar with the Western front. If this much-needed help (especially heavy artillery, machine guns and aircraft) had came in 1916 or earlier, most probably the 1916 defeat could have been avoided.
In the next three chapters the author described the summer 1917 famous battles of Marasti, Marasesti and Oituz. The description is even handed, informative and well supported by maps. Here, I found of special interest the actions of the young lieutenant Erwin Rommel on the Romanian front (Rudolf Hess was also wounded here!) and those of the future Romanian leader, Ion Antonescu. Mr. Torrey did a nice job of incorporating many first hand accounts to supplement his narrative.
These Romanian successes demonstrated that Romanian troops, if properly trained and equipped, could fight on a par with any opponent. As many people know, while the operations on the Romanian front during summertime of 1917 had important consequences for the Entente, they occupy a small chapter in their total war effort. The heroic and successful performance of the (new) Romanian army in 1917 restored Romania's credibility with the Entente allies, as it turned out.
Chapter 15 ("Between war and peace...") focused on propaganda war of both sides, the impact of Focsani armistice and the departure of the Russian army (from 1,200,000 remained about 50,000 troops) and continued in the next chapter with reasons and conditions which led to the occupation of Bessarabia and its subsequent union with Romania as well as the peace of Buftea (march 1918, after German ultimatum), signed in the most unfavorable conditions since the remaining 15 Romanian divisions were required to defend the whole territory without any Russian support.
The last chapter shows the turbulent and also decisive times of the remaining months of the 1918 when the tide of wars turns and Romanian army started to remobilize to enter combat again in less than 24 hours before the armistice in the West went into effect.
Sensing that the story of the WW I on the Romanian Front would be incomplete without mentioning few postwar important issues, before Conclusions, the author added a really valuable "Epilogue". I found this idea sound since many things and historical events are correlated having their roots deep buried long time ago.
Since the Central Powers were defeated and in full withdrawal, Romanian troops reoccupied the lost national territory and the union of Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina with Romania was achieved on December 1, 1918. As the appearance of a Bolshevik regime in Hungary started to take shape, Romania was pressed and with widespread Allied approval started an offensive to end this Red Revolution (led by Bela Kun), eventually defeating the Hungarian forces on the way to Budapest, which was seized on 3 August 1919, as was much of the Hungary. The author doesn't forget to mention that after the peace talks, Romania received the greatest part of what it had been promised in 1916, including alienated minorities and making some neighbors (Hungary, Soviet Union) irredentist and dissatisfied. The events of summer 1940 will show their revenge, Soviet Union occupying Bessarabia and Bukovina, and Hungary, as usually with German help, Transylvania.
Very useful and comprehensive Conclusions end this well-illustrated chronicle of that age.
The text is supported by 17 useful and detailed maps that show the deployments and course of action for the major battles on this front.
Very good are also 42 B&W photographs showing the key military & political leaders of both sides.
There is a useful notes section and bibliography to indicate the sources of various statements, so the readers can verify their accuracy, consider the context, or follow them further. There is also a comprehensive index.
I really hesitate to describe any WW I book as definitive or indispensable on its subject, but "The Romanian Battlefront in WW I" comes as close as any. Indeed, I consider it one of the ten most important books on the Eastern Front in WW I.
For anyone interested in the military history of WW I, I recommend it most strongly.
This is easily one of the best works of analysis on the Romanian Battlefront and absolutely deserves five stars given to it!
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on April 4, 2012
This book is an outstanding book that fills in a gap in the English language literature about World War I on the eastern front. The book explains how Romania got involved, discounting the idea put forth by many that Brusilov's Offensive was a major factor. It discusses the Romanian Armed Forces and its leaders, how they prepared for war, their objectives and what actually happened. The author does not stop the story when the Romanians were driven out of most of their country in 1916. He continues the story to show how the Romanian Army rebuilt itself in 1917 with French assistance, and how that made an impact on the course of the war. The improved Romanian Army denied the Germans and Austro-Hungarians easy victories like they won in 1916, also winning a few battles on its own. As a result, Romania's standing amongst the allies improved. The author also explains the impact of the Russian Revolution on the Romanians and how in the end, they were able to achieve their war aims in both Transylvania and even Bessarabia. The book uses mostly primary sources as well as secondary sources in Romanian, German, French and Russian. There is also a short bibliographic essay about the Romanian secondary sources.

I recommend this book for those who are serious students of World War I, or those who want to know more about the eastern front in World War I or pretty much any library.
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on May 14, 2012
"The Romanian Battlefront..." is Glenn Torrey's crowning achievement, in a career spanning five decades dedicated to the diplomatic and military aspects of Romania`s participation in World War I. While he wrote a biography of General H. Berthelot, commander of the French Military Mission in Romania and also published a few years back a colletion of his studies on the topic, this is a work of synthesis. Torrey has researched thoroughly the archives and libraries in Bucharest, Vienna, Berlin, Moscow, Paris, London and the United States, exhausting them; only the Bulgarian and Turkish sources are not consulted and this is the only serious methodological problem of the work. One wished he engaged more with them, especially the Bulgarians and maybe the author should have also consulted IR literature on Romania in World War I. Otherwise the writing is excelent; Torrey writes well and compelling about military organization, equipment, tactics and the politics of command. Less represented are civil-military relations and the level of human experience of war. While military and diplomatic historians will rejoice, there is little in this work that might be interesting for cultural historians and sociologists. But Torrey never claims that he intended to write more than a military history and the result is very good. One of the most interesting aspects is his ability to move from the Romanian to the Austrian and from the Russian to the German position in what regards a particular military action or a specific moment of the conflict. The author provides top-class naratives of the battles and operations and the maps - though adapted from older works - are good and sufficient. The non-Romanian reader will gain an excellent account of the conflict; the Romanian reader will get a perspective that is not only very detailed, but also less infused with nationalism than the usual treatment of the conflict in local treatises and textbooks. In my view, the only serious bias regards the treatment of I.I.C. Bratianu, the Romanian Prime Minister during the war, who somehow doesn't get the blame for leading his nation in a conflict that nearly destroyed the country and killed or wounded ten percent of its inhabitants, while making refugees and homeless many more. The eventual acquisiton of Transylvania and other territories in 1918 was less the result of his policies and far more due to the Allied victory in the West and in the Balkans and the collapse of Russia and Austria-Hungary. But aside from that, the book is a must read for those with an interest in Romanian history.
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on January 25, 2013
If you enjoy military history at its finest, BUY this book. Yes it's an obscure theater of World War I, but author Glenn Torrey brings it alive. For me he writes the best kind of military history - - - one that takes you from the highest levels of command and strategy, through operational commanders at the army, corps and division levels, right down to individual soldiers who slugged it out in the cold and muck of the Carpathians and Dobrogea. He has borrowed from accounts written in Romanian that otherwise would be beyond the common readers' access, and brought them to life. I couldn't put this book down. My only criticisms are aimed the maps, which although detailed were difficult to read. A larger, detailed map of the entire area would have been helpful - - - the one in the book is just not precise enough. Colored annotations (yes, I know this adds expense, but I would have gladly paid more)would greatly clarify the battlefield movements. The photos are fantastic; I wish there were more. And I certainly hope Torrey writes more. I'm waiting!
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on November 6, 2015
Much as I have studied European History and much as I have tried in the past to study the First World War, this book represents my first foray into the campaigns in Rumania during the First World War. Previously I had read only a little on the 1916 Brusilov Offensive. Although a bloody affair, the Brusilov offensive by the Russian 8th Army on the South West Front under the command of Imperial Russian Army general Aleksei Brusilov was the most successful of all the 1916 offensives against the Imperial German troops along the entire Russian front. As the Brusilov Offensive moved against the troops of the Central Powers in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian troops of the South Western Front brushed along the northern border of Rumania. Accordingly, because of the success of this offensive right on their northern border, the Rumanians were encouraged to join the war effort against the Germans and Austro-Hungarians of the Central Powers alliance.

Rumania's King Carol I was sympathetic to Germany and the Central Powers during his reign. However, Rumania did not join the Central Powers when the First World War began in September of 1914. However, King Carol died on October 10, 1914 and his nephew inherited the Rumanian throne as King Ferdinand I. Ferdinand's inclinations--and more importantly the inclinations of his wife, Queen Marie--were strongly in favor of the Western allies in the war. Despite the change of feelings in the royal family Rumania remained neutral during the first part of World War I. However, Rumania finally did join the Western Allies in the war on August 27, 1916.

The bumpy road that Rumania suffered throughout their participation in the war is outlined in this book. Accordingly, I learned a great deal from the book about the war in eastern Europe from the book. As noted above, my prior studies of the First World War had been hampered because the overwhelming majority of writing on the first World War dealt only with the western front of that war. Until recently, writings about the eastern front had been extremely scarce. Indeed, this 2012 book by is part of a shower of books that has come out each of which deals with the eastern front during the First World War.

RoThe result of the . ThiCental
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on April 29, 2013
Very well written by the author who spent a lot of time doing the research in this unknown area of WWI history. Easy to read and understand, if you love WWI history you should have this one on your book shelf.
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on April 8, 2013
A summary of the review on StrategyPage.Com:

'Romanian specialist Glenn Torrey, who has also written of Henri Mathias Berthelot: General of France, Founder of Romania and RUMANIA AND THE BELLIGERANTS 1914-1916, opens with some background on how Romania decided to join Britain, France, and Russia against her erstwhile ally Germany. He then gives us a look at the Romanian Army and war planning and the outbreak of hostilities. Torrey follows this with an account of the initial Romanian successes, which were quickly followed by a series of stunning German, Austrian, and Bulgarian offensives that overran much of Romania and destroyed much of its army. This is followed by a discussion of how, aided by a French military mission, the Romanians rebuilt a credible army, only to face inevitable defeat with the collapse of Russia. Several concluding chapters cover the final year of the war, during which Romania endured a harsh peace with German and Austria, only to recover all and more with the collapse of the Central Powers. A well-written, carefully documented work, The Romanian Battlefront in World War I should be read by anyone interested in the First World War.'

For the full review, see StrategyPage.Com
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As they call it a "world war", it is assumed that the war occurred throughout the world, engaging every country, to one degree or another. There are gaps in our knowledge of the events of the First World War, which did involve more countries than are at the forefront of academic (or any) study - specifically the Central Powers and the Entente. One of the books to step up and fill a gap is The Romanian Battlefront in World War I.
For the first time in English is a comprehensive account of Romanian military involvement in the Great War. Although it arrived late to the war on the Allied side, for two years, 1916-1917, one million Romanians served their country. Totally unprepared for war in weaponry and the logistics to defend a 960-mile front, Romania was defeated early on and of the 500,000 men mobilized, 160,000 were killed and another 140,000 taken prisoner. Author Torrey tells the story of the revitalization and rearmament of the Romanian Army, the first with the assistance of French military advisors, the second by tons of war supplies arriving via Russian rail lines. Even with the collapse of the Russian armies during the Revolution, Romania was victorious in 1918 in holding their line, tying down numerous enemies and preventing them from gaining access to Romanian oil and wheat resources.
Glenn Torrey has been studying Romania in World War I for a lifetime, which is evident in his total control over the primary and secondary resources used to compile this lucid and informative addition to the literature of World War I.
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on December 15, 2012
Interest in WW1 has never been greater- for history fans there are new books every year. Alas the vast majority (at least in English) focus only on the Western Front, with the occasional treatment of the Gallipoli campaign. This new book tells the little-known story of Romania's ill-fated bid to expand its borders by joining the Entente in 1916. With the war in the west a bloody stalemate, Britain and France actively courted Romania, with its million strong army. With its eye on Transyvania, Romania invaded Austo-Hungarian territory in August 1916. Initial success did not last long; they were soon driven back over the Carpathians, and the combined Hapsburg, German, Bulgarian and Turkish forces soon crushed Romania, occupying most of the country including Bucharest by early 1917.

But Romania was not forgotten at Versailles, having spilled blood in the Allied cause, Romania was rewarded in 1919 not only with all of Hungarian Transyvania, but Bessarabia as well. A lesson in choosing the correct side.

The book opens with a short section on Balkan politics, and introduces the civilian and military men who directed Romania into the war. The major campaigns and battles are described in detail, including the military units deployed on both sides, and casualty figures. This can be a little tedious reading at times but does not slow down the story overly. I learned a lot about the campaign, not recorded in any other book that I know of - for example the part played by the Russians who sent a hundred thousand troops to prop up their allies; and the indecision of the Anglo/French Army in Salonika who promised - but never delivered an offensive. We follow the Romanian army and people through the euphoria of the summer conquests, the dismay and heartache as they not only lost their gains but suffered defeat and occupation.

There are detailed maps of the major battles, but the print on these is somewhat difficult to read. There only a single hand-drawn map of Romania and the surrounding countries - a major omission. I found it hard to find any of the place names mentioned in the text on any of the maps. PLEASE, writers of military books, include a detailed map of the campaign area inside the covers of the book!

A great book and an important part of any Great War library.
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on June 30, 2012
Minor campaigns in the first world war had received relatively little coverage until more recent times, excluding somewhat questionable books written during or just after the war. This book covers the gap on Romania in exhaustive detail. I have read all about the major battles and campaigns in the East, West, Italy, and the Middle East. I was delighted to see something new about the war in Europe. This campaign is usually summarized by little more than a page or paragraph in most general histories, and I always found myself wanting more about this episode. This book supplies the details! The pictures are great, the descriptions of events are good, and the author tries to be as impartial as he can. I should note, the book is biased toward the Romanians and does not criticize certain members of the Romanian leadership enough in my opinion. Romania entered the war for flagrant personal gain with an inadequately trained army and incompetent higher leadership all driven by their need to conquer and create a Greater Romania at the expense of the Central Powers. Instead, after a spirited defense by the Romanians, the Germans, Austrians, and Bulgarians rolled over the country, and Mackensen was able to ride in triumph through the streets of Bucharest. The Romanians held onto a small sliver of territory with Russian help, and fought a few competent but indecisive actions with the enemy until they capitulated to the Central Powers after Russia officially exited the war in 1918. The Romanians used the lull to quietly rebuild their forces, and re-entered the war at the last minute in November 1918 so they wouldn't lose their claims to Austro-Hungarian territory. The Romanian story in WWI is not a romantic one of national defense against an overbearingly aggressive state like Serbia's defense against Austria-Hungary and Belgium's defense against Germany, but instead is the story of a people thrown into a foolish war against overwhelmingly powerful enemies who occupied and exploited Romania for most of the rest of the war after 1916. The Romanian leadership was saved from their military and political mistakes by Allied victory on the Western front. This is an interesting and extremely well researched book about a less than decisive theater in WWI.
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