Academic journal article Military Review

An American Soldier in the Great War: The World War I Diary and Letters of Elmer O. Smith

Academic journal article Military Review

An American Soldier in the Great War: The World War I Diary and Letters of Elmer O. Smith

Article excerpt

AN AMERICAN SOLDIER IN THE GREAT WAR

The World War I Diary and Letters of Elmer O. Smith

John DellaGiustina, Hellgate Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2015, 356 pages

Reminiscent of aspects from such books as Citizen Soldiers and Poilu, DellaGiustina's An American Soldier in the Great War provides a first-hand account of war as seen through the written record of the protagonist, Elmer O. Smith. Few books have covered the life of a soldier from enlisting through combat and back to demobilization as thoroughly as this book, particularly with as much primary source documentation. This is largely due to the familial link between the author and the subject, providing the former easy access to large amounts of material and people who knew (or heard stories of) Smith.

Aside from its foundation on primary sources, the main strength of this book is the approach DellaGiustina takes to frame each chapter, providing an introduction that places people, contemporary events, and basic explanations of military facts (e.g., ranks, the structure of units, and locations of posts) that are pertinent to the story. This serves to inform the reader of items that Smith would address in his diary and letters, and it improves understanding by providing context. While these items will slow down a reader well informed in the early twentieth century or the military, they are valuable for the uninitiated reader, most likely the author's primary audience.

The author provides a comprehensive look at the entire "war-making cycle" from the viewpoint of a participant in World War I. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.