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A decade-long odyssey to recover the story of a forgotten generation and their war led Rubin across the United States and France, through archives, private collections, battlefields, literature, propaganda, and even music. But at the center of it all were the last of the last, the men and women he met: a new immigrant, drafted and sent to France, whose life was saved by a horse; a Connecticut Yankee who volunteered and fought in every major American battle; a Cajun artilleryman nearly killed by a German airplane; an eighteen-year-old Bronx girl "drafted" to work for the War Department; a machine gunner from Montana; a marine wounded at Belleau Wood; the sixteen-year-old who became America’s last World War I veteran; and many more.
They were the final survivors of the millions who made up the American Expeditionary Forces, nineteenth-century men and women living in the twenty-first century. Self-reliant, humble, and stoic, they kept their stories to themselves for a lifetime, then shared them at the last possible moment so that they, and the war they won - the trauma that created our modern world - might at last be remembered. You will never forget them. The Last of the Doughboys is more than simply a war story; it is a moving meditation on character, grace, aging, and memory.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Rick on 09-05-13
This was a really good book! I've read allot about WWII and of course the American Civil War, but never much about "The Great War". The interviews with the surviving veterans and their stories are amazing. I have always enjoyed listening to older folks and hearing what they have to say, where they've been and how it was in their era. This book fits that bill!
Grover Gardner does an excellent job of communicating the manner in which his interviewees spoke, gestured, thought and lived. His inflection and tone were excellent throughout the entire book.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history, anyone interested WWI, or anyone who enjoys hearing about the past as told by those who lived it. I'm glad I made this selection!
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
By Jean on 03-11-14
An engaging book
Richard Rubin has done lots of work in researching this book. He has had to travel all over the country to meet with the veterans for the interviews but the most difficult problem was in finding them. He had to be a detective hunting down the last of the survivors of world war one. This is an engaging book with wonderful tangents such as songs of the conflict; Rubin had gathered sheet music as well as old vinyl records of world war one songs. He also read many memoirs about the conflict. I have on my list to read next, one of the books he went into detail about, “Over the Top “written in 1918 by Arthur Guy Empey. Rubin travel widely employing a keen eye, he made almost a travelogue of World War One monuments and statues. He noted almost every town or city in the country has at least one memorial monument if not more in honor of local people who served in WWI. He also traveled through the WWI cemeteries in Europe also well as monument to the American troops who fought there. Rubin also found African-Americans that had served in the various armed services as well a few women. At the end of the book he discussed the terrible treatment given the veterans of WWI or should say lack of any treatment or service. Apparently the man President Harding appointed to head the Veterans Affairs abscond with millions of dollars he had embezzled. The author also gave some explanations about how the term Doughboy came about. I hope someone will do the same for the WWII veterans before it is too late. If we were on the ball we would be gathering the stories of veterans of all the wars we have fought we are losing so much of our history. I really enjoyed this book; it was at times funny at times serious but always delightful. Grover Gardner did a great job narrating the book.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful