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The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World Warby Richard Rubin
Synopses & Reviews
and#8220;Richard Rubin has done something that will never be possible for anyone to do again. His interviews with the last American World War I veteransand#8212;who have all since diedand#8212;bring to vivid life a cataclysm that changed our world forever but that remains curiously forgotten here.and#8221;and#8212;Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914and#8211;1918
In 2003, 85 years after the end of World War I, Richard Rubin set out to see if he could still find and talk to someone who had actually served in the American Expeditionary Forces during that colossal conflict. Ultimately, he found dozens, aged 101 to 113, from Cape Cod to Carson City, who shared with him at the last possible moment their stories of Americaand#8217;s Great War. Nineteenth-century men and women living in the twenty-first century, they were self-reliant, humble, and stoic, never complaining, but still marveling at the immensity of the war they helped win, and the complexity of the world they helped create. Though America has largely forgotten their war, you will never forget them, or their stories. A decade in the making, The Last of the Doughboys is the most sweeping look at Americaand#8217;s First World War in a generation, a glorious reminder of the tremendously important role America played in the war to end all wars, as well as a moving meditation on character, grace, aging, and memory.
and#8220;An outstanding and fascinating book. By tracking down the last surviving veterans of the First World War and interviewing them with sympathy and skill, Richard Rubin has produced a first-rate work of reporting.and#8221;and#8212;Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia
and#8220;I cannot remember a book about that huge and terrible war that I have enjoyed reading more in many years."and#8212;Michael Korda, The Daily Beast
For the past decade, Richard Rubin sought every last living American veteran of World War Iand#8212;and uncovered a forgotten great generation, and their war.
In a riveting, suspenseful narrative with haunting echoes for our own time, Adam Hochschild brings WWI to life as never before, focusing on the long-ignored moral drama of its critics, alongside its generals and heroes. A brilliant new history of the Great War that raises the eternal question of why such a terrible war was ever fought.
"This is the kind of investigatory history Hochschild pulls off like no one else . . . Hochschild is a master at chronicling how prevailing cultural opinion is formed and, less frequently, how it's challenged." and#8212; Maureen Corrigan, NPRand#8217;s Fresh Air
World War I was supposed to be the and#8220;war to end all wars.and#8221; Over four long years, nations around the globe were sucked into the tempest, and millions of men died on the battlefields. To this day, the war stands as one of historyand#8217;s most senseless spasms of carnage, defying rational explanation.
To End All Wars focuses on the long-ignored moral drama of the warand#8217;s critics, alongside its generals and heroes. Many of these dissenters were thrown in jail for their opposition to the war, from a future Nobel Prize winner to an editor behind bars who distributed a clandestine newspaper on toilet paper. These critics were sometimes intimately connected to their enemy hawks: one of Britainand#8217;s most prominent women pacifist campaigners had a brother who was commander in chief on the Western Front. Two well-known sisters split so bitterly over the war that they ended up publishing newspapers that attacked each other.
As Adam Hochschild brings the Great War to life as never before, he forces us to confront the big questions: Why did so many nations get so swept up in the violence? Why couldnand#8217;t cooler heads prevail? And can we ever avoid repeating history?
"Hochschild brings fresh drama to the story and explores it in provocative ways . . . Exemplary in all respects." and#8212; Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
"Superb . . . Brilliantly written and reads like a novel . . . [Hochschild] gives us yet another absorbing chronicle of the redeeming power of protest." and#8212; Minneapolis Star Tribune
When World War I ended over one million American vets came home, and every town in the nation built a memorial in hopes that the unprecedented conflict would never be forgotten. Yet, over the next century, it was.
Ten years ago, Richard Rubin set out to interview every last living doughboy—several dozen, aged 101 to 113. They shared with him, at the last possible moment (all are gone now), their story of Americas Great War. They were nineteenth-century men and women living in the twenty-first century: self-reliant, humble, and stoic; never complaining, still marveling at the immensity of the war they helped win. A decade in the making, The Last of the Doughboys is a sweeping new look at our forgotten world war, and a moving meditation on character, grace, aging, and memory.
About the Author
Richard Rubin is the author of Confederacy of Silence. He has written for the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Smithsonian, and New York magazine. He lives in New York and Maine.
Table of Contents
Prologue: No Mans Land ix
1. Wolves on the Battlefield 1
2. Over the Top 15
3. The American Sector 35
4. Cheer and Laughter and Joyous Shout 72
5. The People Behind the Battle 94
6. The Forgotten Generation 111
7. Give a Little Credit to the Navy 123
8. A Vast Enterprise in Salesmanship 142
9. Hell, We Just Got Here 165
10. We Didnt See a Thing 188
11. Loyal, True, Straight and Square 216
12. Old Dixieland in France 243
13. LOssuaire 285
14. A Wicked Gun, That Machine Gun 312
15. Wasnt a Lot of Help 346
16. The Last Night of the War 389
17. The Last of the Last 424
18. We Are All Missing You Very Much 465
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