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The Lost Battalion: A Private's Story Paperback – 2004
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What is so incredible about WWI, as seen through the eyes of John Nell, is that he and his comrades did not have the tools or the ability to communicate, which we take for granted.
The fact that the Lost Battalion was saved by a homing pigeon is certainly a metaphor for the level of combat communication in WWI.
Then there is the issue of medical care. How about a hole drilled in your side to release bronchial gunk?
But I guess most impressive was that these soldiers were willing to face grueling fire and near certain death, without question, on the basis of an order from a superior. Would today's 18 year olds do that?
This book is highly recommended.
I think the most interesting part of the book was his description of training and the travel. Boot Camp 1917 seemed to be more of a boy scout camp than the Boot Camp of Full Metal Jacket. It is also revealing that the author (although a patriotic American) didn't get caught up in the jingoism of the time (or maybe he omitted it by hindsight?) He ends the book by echoing the sentiments of many combat soldiers when he says that the people should think hard before committing men to battle.
As for those who asked why WW1 was forgotten while WW2 is glorified there are several reasons:
1) The Doughboys were poorly equipped, led and trained as described in this book. This made a mockery of the "Nothing's too good for the boys" propaganda that was in vogue at the time. This is not a knock against the actual soldiers who went, but at those who were responsible to equip, lead and train them (including the civilian leadership.)
2) In the 1920's, America grew rich from such new fangled things such as the stock market so people just wanted to make money and forget about this war nonsense.
3) The peace and isolationist movements didn't want anything to do with war or the study of it. They thought that by banning war and words associated with it would prevent war from happening ever again (understandable considering how deadly WW1 was, but naive as WW2 proved.)