In 2003, eighty-five years after the armistice, it took Richard Rubin months to find just one living American veteran of World War I. But then, he found another. And another. Eventually, he found dozens, aged 101 to 113, and interviewed them. All are gone now.
A decade-long odyssey to recover the story of a forgotten generation and their war led Rubin across the United States and France, through archives, private collections, battlefields, literature, propaganda, and even music. But at the center of it all were the last of the last, the men and women he met: a new immigrant, drafted and sent to France, whose life was saved by a horse; a Connecticut Yankee who volunteered and fought in every major American battle; a Cajun artilleryman nearly killed by a German airplane; an eighteen-year-old Bronx girl "drafted" to work for the War Department; a machine gunner from Montana; a marine wounded at Belleau Wood; the sixteen-year-old who became America’s last World War I veteran; and many more.
They were the final survivors of the millions who made up the American Expeditionary Forces, nineteenth-century men and women living in the twenty-first century. Self-reliant, humble, and stoic, they kept their stories to themselves for a lifetime, then shared them at the last possible moment so that they, and the war they won - the trauma that created our modern world - might at last be remembered. You will never forget them. The Last of the Doughboys is more than simply a war story; it is a moving meditation on character, grace, aging, and memory.
©2013 Richard Rubin (P)2013 Blackstone Audio
This was a really good book! I've read allot about WWII and of course the American Civil War, but never much about "The Great War". The interviews with the surviving veterans and their stories are amazing. I have always enjoyed listening to older folks and hearing what they have to say, where they've been and how it was in their era. This book fits that bill!
Grover Gardner does an excellent job of communicating the manner in which his interviewees spoke, gestured, thought and lived. His inflection and tone were excellent throughout the entire book.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history, anyone interested WWI, or anyone who enjoys hearing about the past as told by those who lived it. I'm glad I made this selection!
I cannot say enough about this book. I've been on a bit of a WWI kick, and this book was a nice change from the normal historical narrative. It lends a human perspective to the War, but it's as much a book about the present and how we think about the Great War as much as it is about the Great War itself. Grover Gardner is absolutely BRILLIANT - he does different voices for each person in a subtle way, and even conveys the emotion in the voices of those who are relating their stories.
You should download this book. It is everything a non-fiction audiobook should be.
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I really love the concept of this book. Memories from the WWI era told by the men and women who created them over 8 decades ago. First hand accounts of not only the war, but the times they lived in and the things they found important to remember. Reaching 100 years of age in itself is a rare enough accomplishment but to think of the things they went through to get there is amazing. I am really glad that Richard Rubin was able to take the time to coax the stories from some of the final few that remained before all passed away and the style and stories were lost forever.
Grover Gardner was the perfect choice to narrate this book. His easygoing style made the book seem conversational as if he was relating his experience directly to me.
I am really glad to have found this book. It was good to hear about their experiences, good and bad, told in their unique style and frame of reference. I think this is a book I will be able to enjoy again and again.
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