Good morning, dear readers! I'm pleased to introduce Glen Craney as my guest today. A prolific writer of historical fiction, Glen is here to share some insight into the fate of American soldiers facing the Great Depression following their service in World War I and his book, The Yanks are Starving: A Novel of the Bonus Army.
Rich Man's War, Poor Man's Eviction Fight
Guest Post by Glen Craney
An unlikely American duo made history together twice.
In France, and fourteen years later on the tear-gassed streets of Washington, D.C.
In the Great War, courage had many fathers.
Joe Angelo, a second-generation Italian-American, volunteered as a private for the American Expeditionary Force in 1917 to prove his loyalty to his family’s new country. In contrast, his future captain, George Patton, a brash West Pointer who would become the controversial World War II tank commander, sailed for France eager to match his Confederate ancestors in glory.
Angelo and Patton could not have been more different in background, temperament, or motives for fighting. Yet they came together twice during the early twentieth century to play pivotal roles in U.S. history.Angelo was as diminutive as Patton was imposing. A laborer in the dangerous DuPont Powder Works in New Jersey, Angelo enlisted at a time when many Italian immigrants still had family in the old country, where support wavered during the first year of the war between the Central Powers and the Allies. First and second-generation Italian-Americans like Angelo came under suspicion in the States, as did German-Americans, some of whom suffered harassment and even lynchings.
Patton, despite his aristocratic Virginia roots, saw potential in Angelo and chose him for his orderly. That decision would prove one of the most important in Patton’s eventful life. On a foggy day in September of 1918, he and Angelo stumbled into a desperate machine-gun fight in the Meuse-Argonne. When Patton took a shot to his upper leg, Angelo stayed at his side while the battle raged and managed to drag him to safety. Angelo’s heroism earned him the Distinguished Service Cross.
After the war, Patton climbed the ranks to command the Third U.S. Cavalry, while his orderly returned to the tough streets of Camden. Despite his medal commendation, Angelo would likely have been forgotten to obscurity had it not been for one of America’s most shameful episodes fourteen years later.
During the summer of 1932, a charismatic, rail-riding hobo named Walter Waters led nearly 43,000 unemployed WWI veterans and their families into Washington, D.C. to demand advance payment of their deferred service annuity, popularly known as the Bonus. Angelo, nearly destitute, walked 150 miles to testify at a congressional hearing about his plight. He became one of the colorful champions of the Bonus Expeditionary Force, the name adopted by the army of veterans that camped under the shadows of the U.S. Capitol and paced along its steps in a pitiful procession called the Death March.
Months passed in the standoff. Then, at the end of a tense July, General Douglas MacArthur, the Army’s Chief of Staff, called out the infantry regulars from their barracks and drove the encamped veterans and their families from the city with tanks and gas. Patton led MacArthur’s cavalry in the attack down Pennsylvania Avenue. Amid the screams and smoke of the rout, Angelo sought out his former captain whose life he had saved in France.
What happened during their encounter would shock the nation and help decide the U.S. presidential election of 1932.
The Yanks Are Starving: A Novel of the Bonus Army relives the experiences of eight Americans who survived the fighting in France and came together again during the Great Depression to decide the fate of the nation on the brink of upheaval. It is the little-known story of the political intrigue and government betrayal that culminated in the only pitched battle ever fought between two American armies under the same flag.
Two armies. One flag. No honor.
The most shocking day in American history.
Former political journalist Glen Craney brings to life the little-known story of the Bonus March of 1932, which culminates in a bloody clash between homeless World War I veterans and U.S. Army regulars on the streets of Washington, D.C.
Mired in the Great Depression and on the brink of revolution, the nation holds its collective breath as a rail-riding hobo named Walter Waters leads 40,000 destitute men and their families to the steps of the U.S. Capitol on a desperate quest for economic justice.
This timely epic evokes the historical novels of Jeff Sharra as it sweeps across three decades following eight Americans who survive the fighting in France and come together fourteen years later to determine the fate of a country threatened by communism and fascism.
From the Boxer Rebellion in China to the Plain of West Point, from the persecution of conscientious objectors to the horrors of the Marne, from the Hoovervilles of the heartland to the pitiful Anacostia encampment, here is an unforgettable portrayal of the political intrigue and government betrayal that ignited the only violent conflict between two American armies.
Connect with Glen Craney
Glen Craney is an author, screenwriter, journalist, and lawyer. A graduate of Indiana University Law School and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, he is the recipient of the Nicholl Fellowship Prize from the Academy of Motion Pictures and the Chaucer and Laramie First-Place Awards for historical fiction. He is also a four-time indieBRAG Medallion winner, a Military Writers Society of America Gold Medalist, a four-time Foreword Magazine Book-of-the-Year Award Finalist, and an Historical Novel Society Reviews Editor's Choice honoree. He lives in Malibu and has served as the president of the Southern California Chapter of the HNS.