An American Soldier in World War I
The book titled ‘An American Soldier in World War I,’ written by George Browne gives an account of the experience of an American soldier in the First World War on the European soil. While author Browne was in the war, he writes several letters to his fiancée, Martha describing his life as a soldier during the world war. The book is a collection of the letters written by Browne, which reveals various aspects of an American soldier, including his daily life at the European theater, obstacles faced by him during training and transportation to the country of France and the dangers he encountered during the combat. It also gives an explanation of the strain in the relationship between Browne and Marty. Although there is a very little information available on how the two met before the war, it is evident that their relationship has turned out into a successful marriage by the end of the war. Since most of the stories on the life of American soldiers during the war do not provide information about their personal views, this book is a primary resource, which places the experiences of Browne in the larger context of the war.
Browne joins the American military in the year 1917 and serves until 1919 where he undergoes training in the United States before he leaves for France in October 1917. The only means of communication between Browne and his fiancée Martha was the letters which he wrote to her during the war. Since millions of soldiers from all the world countries lost their lives for the sake of the war, Browne’s letters served as an evidence for his survival. In his letters, Browne describes the reasons as to why he had to enter the war. He narrates to Martha that the US had to expand its army and move to Europe since the threat from German military began increasing over time. Browne also mentions about the hardships of the war, such as residing in trenches, consuming poor food, surviving lice, improper clothing, withstanding bombardments and attacks from the enemies and many others. The book is impressive as it offers an organizational structure of every chapter with a documented explanation of the war’s context. The book provides continuity by grouping specific themes and topics in a sequential order. It presents Browne’s letters as they are without editing the misspelled words, slang words and grammatical errors during the period of the World War I.
The book provides a clue of the racial and ethnic attitudes of the soldiers on the foreign land. It also gives information about how the separation of couples impacted their relationships. Another interesting feature of the book is that it not only offers a detailed study of the efforts of the US in building the army, but also a glance of Browne’s romance with Martha. The author allows the readers to realize the transition underwent by the US soldiers and the sacrifices they made to bring victory to the country. Browne’s letters also reveal the transformations of common men into soldiers and the obstacles they had to face, such as lack of trainers, inadequate uniforms, limited housing facilities and an effective fighting force. Most importantly, the book explains the importance of personal hygiene as most of the soldiers were from rural areas and had no proper vaccination or hygienic habits, which forced the commandments to schedule medical treatment for the soldiers very often. In spite of the difficulties faced by the American soldiers during the World War I, the book also states that they enjoyed being in the army through receiving mails, reading newspapers, playing games and watching movies and shows whenever possible.
The book gives an account of how Browne and his fellow soldiers were lucky enough to survive the combat of July and August, 1918 as the division suffered over 8000 casualties. In the next few letters of the book, Browne mentions about how he faced tremendous strain not only physically, but also psychologically. He had to face nine days of hand-to-hand fighting, which was although intermittent, involved shell fire consisting of gas. Browne also consumed only one meal a day for most of the days and on some days, he had nothing to eat. The letter he wrote explains the way he requested the division for an extended rest in a small village. Although Marty continued to write, on certain occasions, Browne could not write frequently due to shortage of paper or writing material. However, in his letters, Browne assured Martha that his love for her was still the same and that the war would end soon. In the winter months, Browne and his division had to suffer the rainy and cold weather with inadequate blankets and overcoats. He also explains how he saw the climax of the war on 11th November from a soldiers’ base after recovering from wounds. After returning to the United States by the end of the World War I, Browne and Martha reunited and married in Connecticut and Browne worked for the rest of his life as a civil engineer until his death in the year 1971.
Browne, George E. An American Soldier in World War I, ed. David L. Snead. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2006.