Tag World War I

Adventure Capitalism and the Frontier Question

Andrew Offenburger— In 1883, an academic and traveler named William Henry Bishop posed a question on many Americans’ minds. “What is a world to do,” he asked, “when it has no longer a West?” Bishop wondered how the United States would continue to expand beyond California, following a pattern of

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1919: A Poilu Comes Home

Edward M. Strauss— Mobilized in August 1914 at age 35, infantry Corporal Louis Barthas spent almost four years in the trenches. After his health collapsed in early 1918 he served in rear echelons, guarding German POW’s and training young French conscripts in Brittany. He remained in uniform after the November

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Stepping Back from the Front

Louis Barthas; Translated by Edward M. Strauss— In March 1918, after more than forty months on the front lines, under daily threat of violent death, disease, or dismemberment, French infantry corporal Louis Barthas succumbs to exhaustion and earns an evacuation order from a cynical, reluctant medical officer. He’s shunted out

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Louis Barthas: Eyewitness to the French Army Mutinies, May-June 1917

Edward M. Strauss— “On May 26 [1917] the first American combat troops arrived in France…. “The arrival of the first American troops coincided with a dramatic change on the French sector of the Western Front, where the growing number of desertions turned, on May 27, to mutiny.  At the Front

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Looking Back at the First World War

Today marks the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I. To commemorate the day, we sat down with Bruno Cabanes, author of August 1914: France, the Great War, and a Month that Changed the World Forever, to discuss what he discovered about the war through his research and

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The Invention of the Modern Soldier

Libby Murphy— During the Great War, French soldiers struggled to make sense of their experience, both for themselves and for their compatriots. Soldier-writers used fiction to recalibrate civilians’ expectations about the war and to teach them to see through the “skull-stuffing” of the mainstream media—exaggeration, euphemisms, and outright lies. Many of

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Happy Birthday, Louis Barthas!

Louis Barthas; Translated by Edward M. Strauss— Poilu author Louis Barthas was born on Bastille Day, July 14, 1879. In honor of his 137th birthday, here are two letters that Barthas wrote in 1916 to Pierre Brizon, a Socialist member of the French legislature. One asks for the deputy’s help

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Americans Fight and Die in France in World War I

Edward Strauss— One hundred years ago, young Americans were fighting alongside the Allies in the trenches and No Man’s Land of northern France. America would not enter World War I until April 1917, and American forces would not fully engage in combat until more than a year later, in 1918.

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The Life of Louis Barthas

Louis Barthas kept vivid journals of his service as a French corporal in World War I. In honor of his birthday today, July 14th (which is also Bastille Day!), the following is an excerpt from the 1978 introduction to Poilu, his collected notebooks. Rémy Cazals— Louis Barthas was born on

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Browned Off and Bloody Minded: The British Soldier in WWII

More than three-and-a-half million men served in the British Army during the Second World War, the vast majority of them civilians who had never expected to become soldiers and had little idea what military life, with all its strange rituals, discomforts and dangers, might entail. Alan Allport, author of Browned Off and

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