Doughboys On The Great War: How American Soldiers Viewed Their Military Experience, by Edward A. Gutierrez
A couple of months ago or so I volunteered to review books for another military history journal that was edited by an acquaintance of mine who had written a book I reviewed for another journal . He assigned me a lengthy combined book review on four books on World War I history that are coming out for the 100th year anniversary of America’s entry into that terrible war, a project that will take some time to complete. Until recently, I had not even gotten any of the books to read and review, but this book was the first one I received and will be the first one I read. For rather personal reasons, I have read little about World War I history . Two of my great-grandfathers fought in the war and were gassed and both died young and rather horrible deaths as a result of their experiences, something I have always viewed with considerable regret. A great deal of my family’s own misery in the last few generations is related to the World War I experience, and that is a tough burden for any historical subject to bear.
This particular book has a straightforward purpose and presentation, taking about 200 pages or so to cover its material that looks at the motivations and experiences of doughboys in war. His idea seems to be that the soldiers were motivated strongly by duty and that many had some idea it was an unpleasant duty, and that many survivors were deeply shaped by their own experiences in war. The book, moreover, seems to be divided more or less into chronological order and is based strongly on archival material in letters and memoirs and so on. By virtue of triangulation, the author seeks to uncover the meaning of the experience of these soldiers in a brutal war that has nonetheless been largely forgotten or ignored by the contemporary population of the world in the aftermath of the far greater horrors of World War II. Looking briefly at its contents, this book promises to be deeply interesting, and likely will also provide at least some insight into what drove two of my ancestors into such danger at such great cost to themselves. Having more insight into my family history is seldom an enjoyable matter, but also a worthwhile one. In better understanding our history we can better understand ourselves and the context of our lives and world.
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 See, for example: