Seriously. Do it. Now.
For a year or so my recreational reading was World War I, general histories and memoirs. Lots of memoirs. The people who wrote these memoirs were born between 1890 and 1900. Their writing style is late Victorian or Edwardian (even in translation). It can be florid. So I imagine WWI scenes in bright colors, and this was the reality, at least in the war’s early years. We know what WW2 looked like, it was all khaki and olive drab and gray. In WWI, the uniform of a French soldier was blue. The Italian non-coms wore ridiculous hats.
The most read WWI memoir is probably Robert GravesGoodbye to All That. Graves’ account was pushed by anti-war types through at least the Vietnam War era because it is cynical and un-patriotic. Graves was profoundly alienated from English culture at the time. He was half German and a homosexual.
The best memoir is Ernst Junger’s Storm of Steel. Junger was a professional soldier from a family of Prussian aristocrats. Junger was doing his patriotic duty by fighting. It was what he had trained for, it defined his place in German society. He had no feelings about the rightness or wrongness of the war itself, though he hated being on the losing side. He knew the end was near when the Americans entered the war, not so much because of the men it could put on the battlefield as the supplies it could deliver to the front line. Junger was a hero to the early Nazi movement but eventually he had a falling out with them — he did not believe that the German Army he loved should be commanded by a politician from a low social class.
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