Friday, August 24, 2012

War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars by Andrew Carroll

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 
Obtained from: Personal Library 
Read: June 12, 2012 

With the drama of history and the intimacy of memoir, Andrew Carroll's landmark anthology encompasses every conflict, from the Civil War to Desert Storm. Presenting 175 letters, this book captures vivid depictions of famous battles, profound reflections on the nature of warfare, gripping tales of rescues and escapes, and many more unforgettable expressions of fear, loneliness, love, and patriotism.


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Carroll's collection of war letters is one of the most interesting nonfiction pieces I've had the pleasure of picking up. It is one thing to read the politics or the history of a conflict, it is another to read the thoughts of the men and women who fought it. To read, in their own words, their motivations, emotions and understanding of history as it was being made. 

In most cases, the individuals who put pen to paper were not writers and Carroll did not make any effort to edit their correspondence. These letters are presented in their original format, a choice which I felt, preserved their value. Don’t expect perfect structure or grammar and be prepared to navigate some interesting variations of spelling, but read between the lines and you will understand my rating. 

I wont call this a must read. It isn't the kind of book that takes over your down time and creeps up on you throughout the day, but I greatly enjoyed it just the same. Carroll's obvious regard for history and respect for those who fought made this a particularly well-construction collection and one I’d highly recommend.

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Perhaps it was a different story in their hearts, or perhaps there were too tired, or thinking of home too much, or thinking of their buddies who didn't live to see the victory, to do much celebrating or merry making. But I'm sure of one thing - the troops were glad they wouldn't have to fight anymore - I was.
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