[Edited by Howard Peckham and Shirley A. Snyder]
Victory and defeat, love and loss are the prevalent realities of Letters from the Greatest Generation, a remarkable and frank collection of World War II letters penned by American men and women serving overseas.
Here, the hopes and dreams of the greatest generation fill each page, and their voices ring loud and clear. ''It's all part of the game but it's bloody and rough,'' wrote one soldier to his wife. ''Wearing two stripes now and as proud as an old cat with five kittens,'' marked another. Yet, as many countries rejoiced on V-E Day, soldiers were ''too tired and sad to celebrate.'' While visiting a German concentration camp, one man wrote, ''I don't like Army life but I'm glad we are here to stop these atrocities.''
True to the everyday thoughts of these fighters, this collection of letters can be as amusing as it is worrying. As one soldier noted, ''I know lice dont crawl so I figured they were fleas.'' A fitting tribute to all veterans, this book is one every American should own.
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Howard Peckham (1910-1995) was a professor emeritus of history at the University of Michigan. Aside from writing several books for both children and adults, he was also a founder and early editor of American Heritage.
Shirley A. Snyder (1924-1999) was an editor for the Indiana Historical Society. She edited for the Indiana Historical Bureau for thirty-one years.
"Through eyes that remained essentially civilian, they present objective pictures of the good and bad in military life, of the battles and campaigns they helped to win, and of places they visited. Their reactions to contemporary events and problems, to discussions of postwar planning, for instance, are as interesting as they are varied." ―Maryland Historical Magazine, 1949, reviewing a previous edition or volume
"One cannot read these pages and miss the stark realities of war―how it 'looked and sounded, how it smelled and felt'―to these particular Americans." ―The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 1950, reviewing a previous edition or volume
"These letters build up a picture of war, piece by piece, until the total effect is almost unbearable... Every American should read them at least once a year." ―Indiana Magazine of History, December 4, 1949, reviewing a previous edition or volume
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