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Doughboys on the Great War: How American…
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Doughboys on the Great War: How American Soldiers Viewed Their Military…

by Edward A. Gutièrrez

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On one hand, the author deserves a lot of credit for hunting down a forgotten source of insight; questionnaires completed by American soldiers from Connecticut, Minnesota, Utah and Virginia who served in the Great War. These questionnaires being a product of a still-born volunteer effort (the self-proclaimed "National Board for Historical Service") to capture the meaning of American participation in the struggle. The problem is that Gutierrez seemed to start this work with a preconceived dislike of the literary legacy of World War I and the metaphor of the "Lost Generation" as capturing the general American experience. While I appreciate a debunking of historic "just so" stories as much as the next person I have to admit that I don't trust Gutierrez's voice either and wonder whether he has his own secret agenda. Still, if Gutierrez had done nothing more than hunt down the quote "Sherman had an inadequate vocabulary" (from a Virginian no less) then he has done good work; this is a book you probably should read if you're a student of the war but it shouldn't be the first one you read. ( )
  Shrike58 | Jun 9, 2017 |
This is a 2014 book by a man who found and studied questionnaires that were sent to World War One soldiers in Utah, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Virginia right after they completed their service. Thousand of them filled out the forms and sent t hem back. Apparently no one has ever studied these documesserts their attitudes were a lot more affirmative than that expressed by the "Lost Generation" writers such as Hemingway, Dos Passos, Cummings, et al. But since so many soldiers failed to respond to the questionnaires we can think that the non-responers may well have a different attitude.nts before the author did and wrote this book. He quotes from many of the responses and draws rather obvious conclusions therefrom. The author did a lot of work but it would have been much more interesting if he had followed up on what these men did the rest of their life, and how, if at all, their view of their time in the Army changed in the 1920's. Much in the book is pretty repetitious. There is an extensive bibliography (33 pages) and if the author looked at all those books we know he did a lot of work, in addition to looking at the hundreds of questionnaires. The book gives insight into attitudes of the men and the author a ( )
  Schmerguls | Apr 11, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0700619909, Hardcover)

"It is impossible to reproduce the state of mind of the men who waged war in 1917 and 1918," Edward Coffman wrote in The War to End All Wars. In Doughboys on the Great War the voices of thousands of servicemen say otherwise. The majority of soldiers from the American Expeditionary Forces returned from Europe in 1919. Where many were simply asked for basic data, veterans from four states—Utah, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Virginia—were given questionnaires soliciting additional information and "remarks." Drawing on these questionnaires, completed while memories were still fresh, this book presents a chorus of soldiers' voices speaking directly of the expectations, motivations, and experiences as infantrymen on the Western Front in World War I.

What was it like to kill or maim German soldiers? To see friends killed or maimed by the enemy? To return home after experiencing such violence? Again and again, soldiers wrestle with questions like these, putting into words what only they can tell. They also reflect on why they volunteered, why they fought, what their training was, and how ill-prepared they were for what they found overseas. They describe how they interacted with the civilian populations in England and France, how they saw the rewards and frustrations of occupation duty when they desperately wanted to go home, and—perhaps most significantly—what it all added up to in the end. Together their responses create a vivid and nuanced group portrait of the soldiers who fought with the American Expeditionary Forces on the battlefields of Aisne-Marne, Argonne Forest, Belleau Wood, Chateau-Thierry, the Marne, Metz, Meuse-Argonne, St. Mihiel, Sedan, and Verdun during the First World War.

The picture that emerges is often at odds with the popular notion of the disillusioned doughboy. Though hardened and harrowed by combat, the veteran heard here is for the most part proud of his service, service undertaken for duty, honor, and country. In short, a hundred years later, the doughboy once more speaks in his own true voice.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:35 -0400)

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