Though the United States was late to enter the Great War, a number of idealistic young Americans wished to take part from the beginning. One of these was Avery Royce Wolfe, a highly educated scion of a family in America's burgeoning industrial heartland.Volunteering as an ambulance driver with the French Army in the Verdun sector, Royce sent back a constant stream of highly detailed letters describing the bitter experiences of frontline combat, Verdun being the worst battle the French have ever seen, not excluding comments on strategy, the country he encountered, and the Allies' prospects for success.Containing expert overviews to set the reader in Royce's time and place; however, the narrative is most gripping with his own day-to-day perceptions, analytical and emotional in turn. The reader can sympathize with Royce's dilemma when his original term of service expires and he wonders whether to return home. Then the American army begins to arrive and he decides to continue on. We hear firsthand how the US troops are first kept out of battle, then take casualties no veteran unit would have sustained, because of their fresh-faced audacity. Full of exciting experiences as well as interesting firsthand analyses (such as comparing French and German trenchworks-the latter were far better), Letters from Verdun brings the reader amazingly close to the frontlines of the Great War, almost as if in person.

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