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Back Over There: One American Time-Traveler,…
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Back Over There: One American Time-Traveler, 100 Years Since the Great… (2017)

by Richard Rubin

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Back Over There is written for an American audience and will appeal depending on your level of interest in WWI. For a serious buff, who might actually visit Europe for the express purpose of seeing WWI sites, it will be a five-star the same way Confederates in the Attic was for Civil War reenacting. It's largely a tour of battlefield sites in north-eastern France and the local culture that has developed. There is some history of American battles, but the strength is in Rubin's travels, sights and the people he meets. His writing is often funny and descriptions evocative. I wish there were more maps but I was able to explore more on Google Maps.

The scale of WWI dwarfs the American Civil War, and thus artifacts litter the countryside from the Atlantic to Switzerland. It's too big for any one person to take in so there are local "experts" who have discovered where the interesting sites are to be found. A sort of culture of unofficial experts has arisen, each a master of his local fief. And most of the locations are remote and unvisited, one needs to bushwhack through woods to discover overgrown bunkers. Surprisingly the rural French of some of these regions love Americans, at least a romanticized version of America (big cars, Indians etc). Yet few Americans visit there - it's off the tourist track because no one speaks English (the rural French dislike the English), accommodations rustic and the sites mostly odd things only a war nerd would enjoy. ( )
  Stbalbach | Dec 29, 2017 |
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The author of The Last of the Doughboys goes back to French battlegrounds of World War I to understand why memories of that war are so present in the minds and hearts of modern-day French people.

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