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Voices of War: Stories of Service from the Home Front and the Front Lines Hardcover – November 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chosen from among the more than 30,000 oral histories collected by the Library of Congress's Veterans History Project, these first-person impressions of some 60 men and women who took part in the U.S.'s most salient 20th-century conflicts—WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm—come together to form a meaningful narrative. The object, editor Weiner notes, was "not to cover every engagement in each war, but rather to offer an impressionistic and intensely felt portrait of the ground-level soldier, slogging through the mud of France, the jungles of the Pacific, or the desert of Kuwait," and many other places in between. The book contains scores of brief entries organized by topic ("Under Fire"; "Coming Home") and war, enhanced by 175 color photos. Sometimes the flow constricts as narrators shift from doughboys in European trenches to Kevlar-helmeted infantrymen in the Kuwaiti desert, but the editors have chosen their testifiers well. As with any oral history, what we get are personal reflections, not historical syntheses. And with a foreword by Rep. Ron Kind, an introduction by former Sen. Max Cleland and an afterword by Sen. Chuck Hagel, there is plenty of veteran elected representation here, too.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This useful volume, profusely illustrated with personal and informal photographs, showcases the Veterans History Project, which is intended to involve the average citizen and average veteran in recording what veterans did in America's wars while there is still time. For World War I and many World War II vets, time has already run out, but what they left in writing here stands beside the oral reminiscences of the veterans of Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War. Women are well represented, mostly as nurses but also as USO entertainers and, more recently, in Gulf War logistics. Their brother soldiers helped organize the first African American parachute unit, commanded small landing craft on D-Day, flew and sometimes escaped from B-17s, suffered horrendous wounds in Vietnam infantry combat, and altogether ran the gamut of the century's American military experience. Not all of these narratives are polished, but all are the respectable testaments of Americans who stepped forward when called. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; 1st edition (November 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0792278380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0792278382
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,540,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
VOICES OF WAR is the product of the Veterans History Project form the Library of Congress. It is a book of letters, notes, memoirs, paintings, drawings, photographs, and other memorabilia from World War I through World War II through the Korean War through the Vietnam War to the Persian Gulf War. The quality of paper is the highest obtainable for books, the photograph and art reproductions are superb, and the graphic layout of the letters and memos and interviews are excellent. So as a book it ranks as an Art book.

But that is only the superficial gloss that binds this body of thoughts that have survived a century of warfare. Here are the responses of men and women who volunteered or were drafted, the families and sweethearts left on American soil to keep vigil for those who would return and those who would not. Images of entertainers such as Bob Hope and Martha Raye and the countless others who brought some sense of credibility to the 'cause' worth fighting for are juxtaposed with photos of buddies, of backhome families, and with posters and paintings that accompanied those wars.

The most impressive portion of this book is the interviews conducted by volunteers, young men and women who listened and recorded countless hours of reminiscences from veterans, nurses, families - the spectrum of those stamped with wars' tattoos. Some read as though script for Audie Murphy films: some read with hidden pain and permanent wounds like those of British poet Wilfrid Owen.

And in the end this book simply bears witness to the horror of the history of WAR. How timely for this book to arrive on the shelves when yet again we as a nation that should have learned from history are capturing more material for, unfortunately, another volume. When will we learn? Perhaps if everyone reads this excellent book, there may be hope. Grady Harp, Veterans' Day 2004
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David Traill VINE VOICE on December 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Voices of War does an extraordinary job of melding together the experiences of average Americans who answered the call to service in any one of the major conflicts fought by the U.S. in the 1900s. Veterans from World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam contributed memoirs, sat for interviews, and sent letters that captured their impressions of their time in uniform.

The book is subdivided so that similar experiences are grouped together. For example, one chapter deals with the wait for and then the actual homecomings the contributors experienced, whether it was World War I, Korea, or another war. Another deals with the entry into military life, and the unique challenges that were far different from what they had known in civilian life.

One notable item about the book is its effort to provide a good amount of material concerning women veterans, with stories that span all four conflicts. While most of them are nursing related, each shares a personal, compelling narrative that shows the strong feelings that came with the jobs they performed, especially those that concern taking care of wounded soldiers away from home.

With a large number of World War II veterans disappearing each year now, this offers perhaps one last chance for the average person to know what happened, how it happened, and why things happened the way they did in the wars that challenged America's sons and daughters overseas.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful By S. Annand on November 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The editor, Tom Wiener, who is also a Historian at the VHP, states that this book allows us to "experience war unfiltered by ideology or political agendas." That would be true if, oh, I don't know, one-tenth of this book weren't about senators or congressmen. Every member of Congress supports the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project. They should, but for all the wrong reasons. On the VHP website you will see their stories prominently displayed. This book is no exception.

As a Vietnam Veteran (see my other reviews) I found this oral history collection quite inferior to Al Santoli's oral history of Vietnam in his two books. Santoli also served in Vietnam as a grunt, but devotes his life now to international aid. Since Al is a veteran, however, you would never find the likes of Ron Hinsch. Only a non-veteran would be duped by the likes of this character.

Hinsch is a well-known fraud. Wiener could have found his real service records online at [...] (see the section "phonies and wannabies"). The photo of this "warrior" (VHP's words not mine) on page 147 is laughable. First of all, why no subdued patch? I briefly served in a Ranger company in Vietnam so I know that patch on his costume is incorrect. By the way, after pownetwork linked Hinsch's fraudulent stories to the VHP (go and see foryourself) they are now off the VHP website. Hinsch may have had his 15 minutes of fame on the VHP website erased, but he certainly lives on forever on acid-free paper in your local library or neighbor's coffee table. Weren't there any veterans involved in this project? Obviously not. Mr. Wiener's previous books are film histories so he seems to be out of his depth.

Aside from this glaring problem of Hinsch, I did not get much new from this.
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By Larry Skelton on December 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These are great stories directly from the brave men and women who have served during the wars in which our country has participated. They are not too you can read on or two at a time and put it down and that God for their service.
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