Joseph E. Persico puts the reader in the trenches with the forgotten and the famous, among the latter, Corporal Adolf Hitler, Captain Harry Truman, and Colonels Douglas MacArthur and George Patton. Mainly, he follows ordinary soldiers' lives, illuminating their fate as the end approaches. Persico sets the last day of the war in historic context with a gripping reprise of all that led up to it, from the 1914 assassination of the Austrian archduke, Franz Ferdinand, which ignited the war, to the raw racism black doughboys endured except when ordered to advance and die in the war's last hour. Persico recounts the war's bloody climax in a cinematic style that evokes All Quiet on the Western Front, Grand Illusion, and Paths of Glory.
The pointless fighting on the last day of the war is the perfect metaphor for the four years that preceded it, years of senseless slaughter for hollow purposes. This book is sure to become the definitive history of the end of a conflict Winston Churchill called "the hardest, cruelest, and least-rewarded of all the wars that have been fought".
©2004 Joseph E. Persico; (P)2004 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"Effectively marshaling his source material, Persico powerfully reconstructs Armistice Day as an emblem of the war." (Booklist)
This book tends gives a general history of the events leading up to the war and eventually to the armistice. Though numerous key events are described in brief detail, the author's purpose is effectively accomplished. For detailed descriptions of battles [X attacks Y's flank, etc.] try Keegan's World War I. But don't pass up this book if you're interested in the affect the war had on the western world's war generation.
Also, the reader's role is very well performed.
Making sense out of WWI is sometimes hard, even for the military history buff. Making sense out of what appears to be the senseless waste of lives in the last days of a war is even harder. This author has done a great job of making sense out of the senseless and doing so in an interesting and intertaining way. This book deserves a place on the must hear or read list of anyone interested in the Great War.
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