Synopses & Reviews
James Carl Nelson tells the dramatic true story of five brilliant young soldiers from Harvard, a thrilling tale of combat and heroism in the First World War.
Five Lieutenants tells the story of five young Harvard men who took up the call to arms in the spring of 1917 and met differing fates in the maelstrom of battle on the Western Front in 1918. Delving deep into the motivations, horrific experiences, and ultimate fates of this Harvard-educated quintet—and by extension of the brilliant young officer class that left its collegiate and post-collegiate pursuits to enlist in the Army and lead Americas rough-and-ready doughboys—Five Lieutenants presents a unique, timeless, and fascinating account of citizen soldiers at war, and of the price these extraordinary men paid while earnestly giving all they had in an effort to end “the war to end all wars.”
Drawing upon the subjects intimate, eloquent, and uncensored letters and memoirs, this is a fascinating microcosm of the American experience in the World War One, and of the horrific experiences and hardships of the educated class of young men who were relied upon to lead doughboys in the trenches and, ultimately, in open battle.
"George C. Marshall, writing of the young officers who arrived in France in 1917, said he had 'never seen more splendid looking men,' and after the war lamented that he could not recall a single one surviving. Here, WWI historian and journalist Nelson (The Remains of Company D: A Story of the Great War) relates the heroic story of five former Harvard students who became combat leaders, inspiring the infantry 'doughboys' of WWI. These five officers represented the spectrum of Harvard's Progressive Era student body: George Haydock, the quiet and hard-working recent graduate from a Quaker family; William Morgan, a romantic and idealistic undergraduate; Richard Newhall, a historian 'repelled by all things military'; George Alexander McKinlock, the wealthy football hero; and George Redwood, a Baltimore journalist fascinated by war. Based primarily on the letters of the lieutenants, Nelson describes the men's maturation as leaders and their combat training in France. The book culminates with the battle of Cantigny in May 1918, where three of the friends became casualties. Writing with great knowledge of and sensitivity for his subject, Nelson ensures that the experiences, thoughts and aspirations of the young Harvard men of 1918 are not lost to future generations. B&w photo insert. Agent: James D. Hornfischer, Hornfischer Literary Management. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Writing with great knowledge of and sensitivity for his subject, Nelson ensures that the experiences, thoughts and aspirations of the young Harvard men of 1918 are not lost to future generations." —Publishers Weekly "This eloquent work of the toll of war builds moving stories through a wealth of personal detail." —Kirkus Reviews "Using the letters and diaries of five Harvard-educated men, [Nelson] has constructed a riveting, often brutal, and moving chronicle of young men thrust into command positions . . . An outstanding but often disturbing examination of the process of turning young men into hardened instruments of warfare." —Booklist
About the Author
JAMES CARL NELSON is an active member of the Western Front Association, which is devoted to the study of the Great War. The author of The Remains of Company D: A Story of the Great War, Nelson lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.