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Letters from the Front: J. Gresham Machen's Correspondence from World War 1 Paperback – May 11, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

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"J. Gresham Machen is a fascinating, complex, and controversial figure. . . . What is often forgotten is that he was also a member of the generation of young men whose lives were forever changed by their exposure to the horrors of trench warfare in the First World War. This volume contains the letters that the young Machen wrote home as he served as a YMCA volunteer in the war. As such, they both offer important firsthand accounts of the conflict and also give us insights into some of the darker experiences that shaped the mind of the future church leader." --Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

"Doughboy accounts of their experiences in World War I are fairly common, but it is unusual to find the stories of those who offered assistance behind the trenches. Whether helping the wounded or working in the canteen, [J. Gresham Machen] ministered to the men as best he could. Machen's compassion is truly amazing, and his letters home offer a wonderful glimpse of the service of one YMCA official." --David Snead, Chair, Department of History, Liberty University; Editor of George Browne: An American Soldier in World War I

"From these rare letters, the reader can see a fresh side of the great scholar. On the battlefields of France, he was simply known as a compassionate soul who brought solace to scores of suffering soldiers. For those who only know Machen the polemicist, this volume will showcase Machen the caregiver." --William Edgar, Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

About the Author

J. Gresham Machen was a pivotal figure in American church history, involved in the founding of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: P & R Publishing (May 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596384794
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596384798
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,832,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
[Full Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes. However, I was not required by them to give the book a good review.]

It's a struggle for me to review Letters from the Front in a lot of ways. J. Gresham Machen is a hero of mine, and as a theologian I have the highest regard for him. When I came to this book, I had decided that in some ways, all he was was a theologian, and so my expectations for this book were skewed from the very beginning. Instead of a mere theologian, what I found in these pages was a more robust picture of a man, and I felt chided for seeing my heroes as being so two-dimensional.

First of all, it must be acknowledge that what Barry Waugh has done in giving us this book is nothing short of a feat. This book is the result of literally years of Dr. Waugh sitting down one letter at a time and copying them from the correspondence which Machen had saved for posterity's sake. As is explained in the introduction, it was not always the easiest thing for Waugh to do this, in terms of transcription of difficult words and the complexities of the whole process. In terms of the work put into this, we should all be grateful. These documents indeed provide a fuller picture of the life of Machen during World War I when he served in France as part of the YMCA. Readers will find much of interest in these letters. There are also interesting photographs of Machen, his family, and YMCA facilities similar to those Machen would have been living in and around during the penning of these letters.

Readers may perceive that there is a "but" coming. And indeed it is true.
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