The United States has always been a nation of immigrants---never more so than in 1917 when the nation entered the First World War. Of the 2.5 million soldiers who fought with U.S. armed forces in the trenches of France and Belgium, some half a million---nearly one out of every five men---were immigrants. In The Long Way Home, David Laskin, author of the prizewinning history The Children's Blizzard, tells the stories of 12 of these immigrant heroes.
In this remarkable collection of BBC recordings, we hear what the people of the Home Front listened to as they lived, loved, laughed and worked through the dark days of World War Two; from the stirring speeches and air-raid sirens, to the humour and music that helped to keep them smiling through.
No Ordinary Time describes how the isolationist and divided United States of 1940 was unified under the extraordinary leadership of Franklin Roosevelt to become the preeminent economic and military power in the world.
"Great at 1.5 speed"
Brought to the New World from Ireland, young Joseph Forsyth is soon betrayed by his alcoholic father and separated from his beloved family. As he grows older, he finds his kind nature exploited by others - including an alluring young woman named Lucy - until he gets swept away by the conflict that divides a nation.
"A rollercoaster ride. I couldn't put it down."
On May 19, 1942, a U-boat in the Gulf of Mexico stalked its prey 50 miles away from New Orleans. Captained by 29-year-old Iron Cross recipient Erich Würdemann, the submarine set its sights on the freighter Heredia with 59 souls onboard. Most of the crew were merchant seamen, but there were also a handful of civilians, including the Downs family, consisting of the parents, Ray Sr. and Ina; along with their two children, eight-year-old Ray Jr., nicknamed "Sonny", and 11-year-old Lucille.
In April 2004, soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division were on a routine patrol in Sadr City, Iraq, when they came under surprise attack. Eight Americans would be killed and more than 70 wounded. Back home, as news of the attack began filtering in, the families of these same men feared the worst. This intimate portrait of the close-knit community of families Stateside, the unsung heroes of the military, distinguishes The Long Road Home from other stories of modern warfare.
"Well Done Martha!"
Away from the frontlines of World War II, in towns and villages across Great Britain, ordinary women were playing a vital role in their country's war effort. As members of the Women's Institute, an organization with a presence in a third of Britain's villages, they ran canteens and knitted garments for troops, collected tons of rosehips and other herbs to replace medicines that couldn't be imported, and advised the government on issues ranging from evacuee housing to children's health to postwar reconstruction. But they are best known for making jam.
"Tread Carefully & Be Amazed"
During the early years of World War II in the Pacific theatre, against overwhelming odds, young American airmen flew the longest and most perilous bombing missions of the war. They faced determined Japanese fighters without fighter escort, relentless anti-aircraft fire with no deviations from target, and thousands of miles of over-water flying with no alternative landing sites.
"Compelling History of the Pacific Air War"
While On Hallowed Ground chronicled the history of the cemetery, Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery is the powerful contemporary biography of a five-acre plot where many of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been laid to rest alongside service members from earlier wars.
"What a sad wonderful book"
In 1914, Britain faces a new kind of war. For Edward and Beatrice Hunter, their children, servants and neighbours, life will never be the same again. For David, the eldest, war means a chance to do something noble; but enlisting will break his mother's heart. His sister Diana, nineteen and beautiful, longs for marriage. She has her heart set on Charles Wroughton, son of Earl Wroughton, but Charles will never be allowed to marry a banker's daughter.
"Prissy and Slow In One Grand Sweeping Motion"
Home Fires is the powerful saga of the Gordon family - real people, names unchanged. Spanning nearly five decades, from the end of World War II to the early 1990s, their story has the scope, depth, wealth of incident, and emotional intensity of a great novel, and an abundance of humor, scandal, warmth, and trauma - the recognizable components of family life. This is also a masterful chronicle of the turbulent postwar era, illuminating the interplay between private life and profound cultural changes.
"The Way We Were"
"They Fled Ethiopia amid War and Privation. An Economic Boom Is Bringing Them Home" is from the May 14, 2016 World section of The Washington Post. It was written by Paul Schemm and narrated by Sam Scholl.
Major George Eyster V comes from a family of military officers dating back to the Revolutionary War. His tour of duty in Iraq, however, left him disillusioned and questioning. Then he accepted a posting to J-PAC, an elite division whose mission is to fulfill the most solemn promise of the military code: bring all fallen soldiers home to the country for which they gave their lives.
"Rebuilding Lives, and Homes, Shattered by Sri Lanka's Civil War" is from the May 17, 2016 World section of The New York Times. It was written by Geeta Anand and Dharisha Bastians and narrated by Keith Sellon-Wright.
In Charlie Mike, Joe Klein tells the dramatic story of Eric Greitens and Jake Wood, larger-than-life war heroes who come home and use their military discipline and values to help others. This is a story that hasn't been told before, one of the most hopeful to emerge from Iraq and Afghanistan - a saga of lives saved, not wasted.
"Should me mandatory reading"
The first series of a major BBC Radio 4 drama serial tracking the fortunes of a group of characters on the home front. Each episode was broadcast exactly 100 years after the events it portrays, through which the characters struggle to maintain normality while Britain is involved in the First World War.
The case starts out close to home: Daniel Kirkland never arrived at Yale for the spring semester. Daniel's mother Grace, a friend of Smokey Dalton's and his son Jimmy's beloved teacher, sacrificed everything to get Daniel into one of the country’s most prestigious schools. What at first seems like a missing persons case becomes something bigger, as Smokey delves into the heart of the anti-war movement. Gradually he realizes that he has stumbled into America’s second war of the decade: the war at home.
"VERY RUGGED - THE WORST OF THE BLACK PANTHERS"
In the early hours of June 6, 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African American soldiers, landed on the beaches of France. Their orders were to man a curtain of armed balloons meant to deter enemy aircraft. One member of the 320th would be nominated for the Medal of Honor, an award he would never receive because the nation's highest decoration was not given to black soldiers in World War II.
For well over a century, traditional Civil War histories have concluded in 1865, with a bitterly won peace and Union soldiers returning triumphantly home. In a landmark work that challenges sterilized portraits accepted for generations, Civil War historian Brian Matthew Jordan creates an entirely new narrative.
"I've been waiting for this book!"
"Home Should Not Be a War Zone" is from the June 16, 2016 Opinion section of The New York Times. It was written by Stanley Mcchrystal and narrated by Kristi Burns.