Looking for the Great War

http://www.bl.uk

What do you remember about World War I?  Obviously you weren’t there, but what comes to mind from earlier studying or reading?  Are there stories about someone in your family who was a soldier?

A century ago Great Britain and France were in a stalemate with Germany and Austria-Hungary.  After a year’s combat, trenches zigzagged across France from Belgium to Switzerland. “No Man’s Land” waited ominously between the fences of barbed wire for men to try to break through the enemy’s line.  They were mowed down by machine guns, time after time.

The United States was officially neutral at the time, but many were involved in a preparedness campaign.  We joined the Allied Powers in April 1917.

When I looked for resources about it, I found few in comparison to those of the Civil War and World War II.  Why is that?

Probably the best recent book I’ve seen is The Last of the Doughboys by Richard Rubin (Mariner Books, 2012).  A dozen or so years ago, he searched for remaining American veterans of the “Great War”  and interviewed them.  They all had lived past the age of 100, and all had remarkable reminiscences. The result is a treasure of information uncovered in a sliver of time which is now gone.

Maybe, with the centennial of the United States’s entrance into the First World War coming up, there will be more books, articles and TV documentaries.  I know of one book, which I’m just about finished proofreading, and will be sharing some of what I’ve found here.

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