The Fascinating Overview
Yanks Behind the Lines: How the Commission for Relief in Belgium Saved Millions from Starvation during World War I. — to be published by international book publisher Rowman & Littlefield October 22, 2020 — summarizes the full story of the Commission for Relief in Belgium thematically with chapters dedicated to all the critical issues. Individual personal stories are interwoven into the big picture to create a compelling read about this little-known but hugely important humanitarian program that changed the way the world saw America and how Americans saw themselves on the world stage. Those who are followed include Herbert Hoover, numerous CRB delegates, Brand Whitlock (minister of the US Legation in Brussels), Emile Francqui (head of the Comite National), and Erica and Edouard Bunge, a 22-year-old Belgian woman and her father.
Three Ways to Read the Story
Book Review Blurbs
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.
— Ed Klekowski, editor of World War One Illustrated
In Yanks 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.
— George H. Nash, historian and Herbert Hoover biographer
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.
— Margaret Hoover, host of PBS’s Firing Line with Margaret Hoover and great-granddaughter of Herbert Hoover
With Yanks behind the Lines, Jeff Miller reminds us of an almost forgotten chapter from the history of World War I. The war not only cost the lives of millions of soldiers. For millions of civilians, it also meant deprivation, hardship, and hunger. In the territories of Belgium and northern France that were occupied by the Germans, American and Belgium relief organizations safeguarded the survival of the civil population. With his fascinating book, Miller raises a permanent monument to this remarkable humanitarian commitment. The book commemorates today the fact that practiced humanity in time of wars and crises can save human lives.
— Jens Thiel, historian, Humboldt-University Berlin
Jeffrey Miller’s Yanks behind the Lines brings to life a little-known but hugely important and absolutely inspiring story: how nearly 10 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.
— Dayton Duncan, Author and Filmmaker
“There is no better expert than Jeffrey B. Miller to portray the brave young Americans who joined the CRB and served the Belgian and French civilians trapped behind German lines during the First World War. He gives us the story of their daily challenging life, the dangers they faced, their inventiveness, and their interactions with the impoverished civilians as well as with the German occupying forces and the local governments. Yanks behind the Lines is the story—and more—of the Americans who launched the first international nongovernmental organization. The Commission for Relief in Belgium, run by the brilliant personality of Herbert Hoover, is a moment in US history to be remembered and to be proud of.”
— Clotilde Druelle-Korn, PhD, University of Limoges
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.
— Branden Little, History Professor at Weber State University
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.
— The US Review of Books