I loved this book. It was written in a folksy manner, as though you were having dinner with the author while he told you about his project to interview any remaining WWI veterans he could find. The reader did a great job of finding the right tone to read with & I was happy with the accents he used when he speaks the words of the veterans. Accents were subtle & natural. As well as relating what was learned in the interviews, there is a tremendous amount of info about The Great War included. It helps understand their stories & generally sets the scene for what was going on in the U. S. While the rest of the world seemed bent on self destruction. I can’t imagine how much time & effort went into researching this book! Not to mention the effort to find these veterans, determine whether they were still living & whether or not they were still lucid when he found them. It would have been interesting to have included vets from around the world as well, but he didn’t begin this project until 2003. That’s 85 years after the war ended. These survivors all had to be over 100 years old. There just wasn’t enough time to search in other countries. I didn’t figure out what method was used to determine the order of the stories. It seemed somewhat chronological, but also skipped around a lot. I’m very familiar with WWI, so that didn’t bother me. But, I would recommend beginning with the excellent Hourly History for WWI if you aren’t already a WWI buff.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audio despite Gardner not being my favorite narrator. The author jumps around a bit, throws in some info/comments I simply skipped over. Sometimes it was tedious & naturally he concentrated on lives of US men.
Highly recommend for history interests & especially enlightening about The Great War that few Americans even know or care about. I had this in perfect conjunction with The Great Influenza.
Every small berg, village or city in Britain has many memorials dedicated to this tragic 4 year war & people still lay wreaths each year. Little wonder, as they lost a generation of men, the economy was devastated for decades. What's further amazing is that in France the land still gives up bodies & artifacts, which it will do for another century plus.
If you have any interest in history, both World and US, you should read this book. This is the 100th year anniversary of WWI. There are no more survivors of this war. Fascinating read; I'm glad Richard Rubin did this work.
I'm adding to this review after reading it awhile ago. In the late 50s I lived in rural France in the Meuse Argonne Forest area. I would spend days hiking in the old trenches, where I would find old rusted metal parts of weapons, helmets too numerous to bother with and bayonets from all sides. It always disturbed me that LOTS of human died in this area, and that the sacrifice would be pretty much in vain, as they had another war in twenty years. Fortunately, all human remains had passed away or were buried. This area was where the US troops were blooded. Sometimes you could almost hear the screams. Eerie experience for an 11 year old kid.
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