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I Will Hold: the story of USMC legend Clifton B. Cates from Belleau Wood to Victory in the Great WarBy James Carl Nelson

Join us for the third 2016 Book Club selection, James Carl Nelson's I Will Hold. Our new week-day meeting, on Wednesday, October 5th at 12pm, invites patrons to bring their lunch for a lively discussion of Nelson's biographical look at the legendary World War I Marine. 

Attend the October 13th, 2016 taping of Priztker Military Presents with James Carl Nelson and his discussion of I Will Hold and get your own signed copy of the book for the PMML Book Club discussion.

Can't make the October 5th noon book club discussion? There will be second discussion on Saturday, October 8th at 11am.

From the moment he first joined the Marine Reserves of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I, Clifton B. Cates was determined to make his mark as a leader. Little did he know what he would truly accomplish in his legendary career.

Not as well-known as his contemporaries such as Alvin C. York, his fame would not come from a single act of heroism but from his consistent and courageous demeanor throughout the war and beyond.

In the bloody second half of 1918 with the 6th Marine Regiment, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Purple Heart, the Silver Star, was recognized by the French government with the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre, and earned the nickname “Lucky.”

I Will Hold is the inspiring, brutally vivid, and incredible true life story of a Marine Corps legend whose grit and unstoppable spirit on the battlefield matched his personal drive and sage wisdom off of it.


Discussion Questions

2.  -Had you heard of Cates before reading this book?

3.  -What do you think the importance of Belleau Woods has to the course of WWI?

4.  -Nelson stresses the many times Lucky Cates defied death by highlighting his nickname. There were many instances, is there one that sticks out to you as especially extraordinary?

5.  -Nelson calls Cates a man made for war (p. 189). Do you agree? Why?

6.  -There are a number of interesting soldiers, marines, and civilians in the book. Who was most memorable for you?

7.  -What did you learn about trench warfare that you didn’t know before?

8.  -The 6th was involved in many battles; some had much steeper attrition than others. What did you perceive as being a military strategy or determining factor in having a successful or tolling offensive?

     -What about the last 11 days of fighting do you think was the most grueling for the 2nd Division?

     -Over the course of Cates’ 37 year career in the Marines, he would distinguish himself as a leader. What do you think is the most important lesson he learned from his WWI service that he carried through the rest of his career?

    Further Reading

Asprey,Robert. At Belleau Wood. Denton, Texas : University of North Texas Press, 1996. PMML Call number D545.B4 A82 1996 (Main Stacks)

Gibbons, Floyd Phillips. And they thought we wouldn't fight. New York : Doran, 1918. PMML Call number D570.9 .G5 1999 (New Books)

Keegan, John. The First World War. New York : A. Knopf, 1999. PMML Call number D521 .K345 1999 (Main Stacks)

Mastriano, Douglas V. Alvin York : a new biography of the hero of the Argonne. Lexington : University Press of Kentucky, 2014. PMML Call number D570.9.Y7 M37 2014 (New Books)

McClellan, Edwin. The United States Marine Corps in the World War. Nashville : Battery Press, 1997. PMML Call number D570.45 .M3 1997 (Main Stacks)

Owen, Peter F. To the limit of endurance : a battalion of marines in the Great War. College Station : Texas A&M University Press, 2007. PMML Call number D570.348 6th .O94 2007 (Main Stacks)

United States. The 96th company 6th marine regiment in World War I. Washington D.C. : U.S. Marine Corps, 1967. PMML Call number D570.348 6th .U6 1967 (Rare Books)


Vandoren, Lucien H. A brief history of the Second Battalion, Sixth Regiment, U.S. Marine Corps, during the period June 1st to August 10th, 1918. Pike : Brass Hat. PMML Call number D570.348 6th .V38 (Main Stacks)