This book is based on the personal letters of George E. Browne to his fiancée, Martha Johnson. Browne, or “Brownie” as he writes in the letters, was not a politician, noble, or celebrity. Instead, he was a twenty-three year old civil engineer who lived in Waterbury Connecticut, and led a simple life. When the United States declared war on the Central Powers on April 6, 1917, however, he felt compelled to serve his country in the national crisis which was facing them. In addition, he wanted to have some control over his placement, a privilege which he would not have received had he been drafted. As a result, he was sent away to begin the training process of becoming a soldier about two months after the United States’ declaration of war. The only practical way of maintaining his relationship with “Marty” was by writing letters as often as possible. The individual chapters of this b...
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...re not yet on the front lines.
Before long, Brownie and his comrades did see the front lines. In fact, the battle of the Ourcq River in France resulted in “Nearly twenty percent of its soldiers . . . either wounded or killed.” In the battle of Saint-Mihiel, which followed, the Rainbow Division sustained twelve hundred casualties, “including nine engineers killed in action and another eighteen wounded.” Right after the battle, after seeing and experiencing the carnage of war, Brownie wrote, “You know who I’d like to have for company—Guess who. Wouldn’t that be enjoyable if it could be so.” Despite his adventures in the military, he still longed to be with the love of his life. It is stories like this—the emphasis upon the humanity within the news stories, so to speak—that motivates readers to reevaluate how they view history. In short, Snead accomplished his goal.
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