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Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters--and One Man's Search to Find Them Paperback – Bargain Price, September 26, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743256174
  • ASIN: B0044KMQWC
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,198,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. After it was released in June of 2001, Carroll's War Letters shot onto bestseller lists as the U.S. entered its first major war in 10 years. That collection selected 150 letters from 50,000 Carroll received after a Dear Abby mention of his Legacy Project, founded in 1998 to preserve soldiers' letters home; the book ranged from the Civil War to Bosnia. This follow-up reaches from the American Revolution to the war in Iraq and offers 200 letters along with 72 b&w photos and illustrations. All the letters were written "during major American wars," but not necessarily by soldiers or by Americans; Carroll culled many of them globe-trotting through 35 countries, from Poland to Iraq, over the past year (he tells the story of his journey in a moving introduction). As for the letters themselves, Carroll has made the very wise editorial decision of printing them as they were written, with misspellings, odd line breaks and regional references intact; letters in translation reproduce idioms and distinctive grammatical turns word for word. The letters are, almost without exception, arresting in their earnestness, sincerity and passion, and diverse in their sentiments—brave, fearful, amorous, angry, resigned, conniving, unbalanced, stoical. The result is captivating in its immediacy. Short head notes provide succinct context, but most speak for themselves. 50-state author tour. (May 10) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Compilations of war letters written by soldiers in combat zones have become an increasingly familiar genre in recent years. But this collection is unique, both in scope and content. Carroll traveled to more than 30 countries on five continents to search for these letters, and his encounters on his travels are just as interesting as the letters. Historically, the letters range from the Revolutionary War to the current conflict in Iraq. They include letters from American and Allied soldiers, but they also include correspondence from enemy soldiers and their wives and loved ones. There are numerous gems here. A Revolutionary War soldier tries to reassure his wife and mother concerning his safety. A French mother chillingly urges her son to fight in World War I or she will disown him as a coward. A British soldier captured during the fall of Singapore describes the physical and emotional pain of a Japanese POW camp. The wife of a Turkish soldier killed at Gallipoli poignantly relates her loneliness and material deprivation. In general, the letters are subdued and seem to cry out for understanding of the horrors of war. This is a wonderful book that should remind us of the grinding pain endured by both those who serve and those who wait for them. Carroll is also the compiler of the similar and well-received War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from the American Wars (2001). Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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That letter is included in the book.
Robert Leahy
The author has put together a very nuanced, clear-eyed, resonant and moving collection and has written helpful, insightful descriptions throughout the book.
Book lover
The only objection I have is I wish the letters were all grouped together for one specific war i.e. the Civil War, W.W. II, etc.
Big D

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Robert Leahy on May 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Andy Carroll's last book - War Letters - showed what war is like by reprinting letters of American combatants who had ac-tually fought those wars. (I should confess that one of my letters about Vietnam was reprinted in that book.)

Andy's new book - Behind The Lines - shows what war is like with reprints of letters from both combatants and non-combatants - civilian women and children. This book also in-cludes letters written by non-Americans as well as Americans.

Andy limited the letters to those from the wars in which America was involved. Thsee wars range from the Revolutionary War (there's a great letter from a Hessian soldier [Hessians were German soldiers "leased" to Great Britain to fight as mer-cenaries] giving his impressions of America and the poor fighting ability of the rebels), the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam (there's a good letter from a soldier asking his parents to forgive him for having killed a man in combat), Kosovo and Gulf Wars I and II.

While many letters deal with combat, other letters show the many faces of war. At times, war can be terrifying, funny, ab-surd, touching and hilarious. (You know you've been fighting too long when the same incident strikes you as both terrifying and hilarious.)

One letter was a love letter written by a California woman to a Swiss national. In fact, the letter was complete fabrication. The Swiss national actually was a German spy traveling in Great Britain during WWII. The letter was created to make his cover seem more believable.

One letter was from a brother who had enlisted in the Union army in the U.S. Civil War. He wrote to berate his brother for having enlisted in the Confederate army.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Book lover on May 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This compilation is marvelously well-edited and includes an incredible variety of letters from soldiers and civilians from numerous wars. The author has put together a very nuanced, clear-eyed, resonant and moving collection and has written helpful, insightful descriptions throughout the book. This book would make a great gift.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
BEHIND THE LINES is a powerful collection of fragments of thoughts that were initiated over the past two hundred plus years of war scars. Andrew Carroll continues his commitment to bring the reality of war to the forefront of our attention and I know no better manner for anti-war statements than the words found in this illuminating and horrifying book.

Carroll approaches war as a panacea - an evil that has been with us around the globe for centuries and just continues unabated. Many poets and writers are struggling to make the public cognizant of the horrors of war, but Carroll scans American involvement in wars from the Revolutionary War to the present and in doing so he demonstrates the madness that we must learn to stop.

Letters, documents, memos, soldiers' notes as well as civilians' responses fill these pages, some eloquent, some simply pitiful, and some stoic as well as some encouraging. The messages are not skewed in a way that makes Carroll seem like he is ranting. Rather he lets the words of the living and the dead speak truths far larger than fiction.

This is a beautifully conceived volume that for the sake of the survival of civilization belongs on the reading desks of everyone. Tough reading, this, but enormously informative and important. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, August 05
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Judith L. Sullivan on June 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book!! I really enjoyed reading it, and found myself unable to put it down. The book gives readers a better understanding of what soldiers and their families go through. After reading this book, I believe I have a better appreciation for our Veterans and our troops serving our country. Definately a recommended book in my opinion.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a review of the abridged CD audiobook.

This book contains letters from soldiers covering a wide range of topics from friendship, love, the strangeness of foreign lands, love, family, comradeship, family, devotion, duty, combat and a number of rather ascetic topics such as observations of animals being used in combat (i.e., soviet use of dogs mounted with explosives against Germans). The letters cover these subjects from a wide time frame, from roughly the US revolutionary war through the end of the twentieth century. The bulk of the letters (about three quarters) are from US troops (front line and ancillary such as nurses) and families of US troops. The balance are from foreign forces (i.e., Hessian, German, Japanese, British, etc.). One of the remarkable things that stands out among these letters is the universality of many of the experiences across both national bounds and time. Quite a few of the letters are quite emotionally moving and enlightening. However, this is not the case with respect to all. Towards the end of the book there is some material that seems to be "filler" in that has the feeling of having been added to complete a full book. Nevertheless, the book does a decent job at giving the reader the feelings of many of those at the front (over time as well as across countries) as well as their families and loved ones. In addition, the audiobook is well read. The readings capture, appropriately, the emotions of the letter. The readings are also never monotone, hence perfect for long trips.
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