First Encounter

First Encounter

First Encounter

First Encounter

Excerpt

It just happens that I'm looking over this little book with a view to its publication at a time when I'm in the middle of writing up the notes of another tour to another front in another war. This narrative was written more than a quarter of a century ago by a bookish young man of twenty-two who had emerged half-baked from Harvard College and was continuing his education driving an ambulance behind the front in France. The young man who wrote it was about the same age as so many of the young men I was seeing and talking to last winter in the Pacific. All the time I was trying to imagine how I'd be thinking and feeling if I were that young man again, really in the way up to my ears, instead of being a middle-aged literary man getting a couple of quick looks at it as a correspondent.

There would be a number of differences.

For one thing I think the brutalities of war and oppression came as less of a shock to people who grew up in the thirties than they did to Americans of my generation, raised as we were during the quiet afterglow of the nineteenth century, among comfortably situated people who were confident that industrial progress meant an improved civilization, more of the good things of life all around, more freedom, a more humane and peaceful society. To us, the European war of 1914-1918 seemed a horrible monstrosity, something outside of the . . .

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