The Zimmermann Telegram: Intelligence, Diplomacy and America’s Entry into World War I

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9781612511481: The Zimmermann Telegram: Intelligence, Diplomacy and America’s Entry into World War I
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By the winter of 1916/17, World War I had reached a deadlock. While the Allies commanded greater resources and fielded more soldiers than the Central Powers, German armies had penetrated deep into Russia and France, and tenaciously held on to their conquered empire. Hoping to break the stalemate on the western front, the exhausted Allies sought to bring the neutral United States into the conflict. <br><br>A golden opportunity to force American intervention seemed at hand when British naval intelligence intercepted a secret telegram detailing a German alliance offer to Mexico. In it, Berlin’s foreign secretary, Arthur Zimmermann, offered his country’s support to Mexico for re-conquering “the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona” in exchange for a Mexican attack on the United States, should the latter enter the war on the side of the Allies. The British handed a copy of the Telegram to the American government, which in turn leaked it to the press. On March 1, 1917, the Telegram made headline news across the United States, and five weeks later, America entered World War I.<br><br>Based on an examination of virtually all available German, British, and U.S. government records, this book presents the definitive account of the Telegram and questions many traditional views on the origins, cryptanalysis, and impact of the German alliance scheme. While the Telegram has often been described as the final step in a carefully planned German strategy to gain a foothold in the western hemisphere, this book argues that the scheme was a spontaneous initiative by a minor German foreign office official, which gained traction only because of a lack of supervision and coordination at the top echelon of the German government. On the other hand, the book argues, American and British secret services had collaborated closely since 1915 to bring the United States into the war, and the Telegram’s interception and disclosure represented the crowning achievement of this clandestine Anglo-American intelligence alliance. Moreover, the book explicitly challenges the widely accepted notion that the Telegram’s publication in the U.S. press rallied Americans for war. Instead, it contends that the Telegram divided the public by poisoning the debate over intervention, and by failing to offer peace-minded Americans a convincing rationale for supporting the war. The book also examines the Telegram’s effect on the memory of World War I through the twentieth century and beyond.

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Review:

..".Fascinating book." -- Military History

"A specialist in the history of espionage and covert operations during the Great War, in The Zimmermann Telegram Boghardt gives us the first new book on this event since Barbara Tuchman's treatment over 60 years ago. In his excellent opening survey of the historiography of the subject, Boghardt notes that Tuchman and other earlier writers on the subject worked without many documents that remained classified until recently, and also wrote largely without reference at all to German sources. A valuable work for anyone interested in the diplomacy of the war or American's participation."-StrategyPage.com

"Overall, this is a deeply researched, clearly written, and highly analytical monograph. It certainly supersedes anything else written on the Zimmermann telegram and should be read by anyone interested in the First World War." -- Intelligence and National Security

"I give this book a high recommendation: FIVE CLOAKS, FIVE DAGGERS!" --The Washington Times

..".Impressive study...Well-researched, engagingly written, and superbly produced...a valuable and enjoyable read." -- The Journal of Military History

"U.S. Army Center of Military History senior historian Thomas Boghardt is a thoughtful, technically astute, balanced investigator and fine author of prose...Read The Zimmermann Telegram. You won't be disappointed."


-- Naval Historical Foundation

..".Should be the definite work on the subject...Dr. Boghardt's work is a masterpiece of intelligence writing. By following the hard evidence rather than relying on historical assumptions, he provides an incisive case study on how intelligence can affect national affairs."


-- Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies

"This is a fresh, comprehensive study of how intelligence and counter-intelligence can be used in war, and of an incident that formed one of the markers on the way to the special relationship between Britain and the USA."


-- Warships International Fleet Review

..".Fascinating book."

-- Military History, July 2013

"The detailed analysis here, drawing from documents of the time, tells us much that is new about the telegram, its decryption, and the tricks which not only brought it to light in 1917 but also kept the whole story from being told until now."


--The Commercial Dispatch, (Columbus, Mississippi)

About the Author:

<strong>Thomas Boghardt</strong> grew up in Germany. He has lived in Florida, France, Italy and England where he went to university. After graduation he taught briefly in Pakistan, then came to Washington, D.C. in 2002 on a postgraduate fellowship at Georgetown University. He subsequently worked for six years as a historian for the International Spy Museum. In 2010, he joined the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C. as a senior historian.

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