The Last of the Doughboys

The Last of the Doughboys

The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War

Book - 2013
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In 2003, 85 years after the armistice, it took Richard Rubin months to find just one living American veteran of World War I. But then, he found another. And another. Eventually he managed to find dozens, aged 101 to 113, and interview them. All are gone now.

A decade-long odyssey to recover the story of a forgotten generation and their Great War led Rubin across the United States and France, through archives, private collections, and battlefields, literature, propaganda, and even music. But at the center of it all were the last of the last, the men and women he met: a new immigrant, drafted and sent to France, whose life was saved by a horse; a Connecticut Yankee who volunteered and fought in every major American battle; a Cajun artilleryman nearly killed by a German aeroplane; an 18-year-old Bronx girl “drafted” to work for the War Department; a machine-gunner from Montana; a Marine wounded at Belleau Wood; the 16-year-old who became America’s last WWI veteran; and many, many more.

They were the final survivors of the millions who made up the American Expeditionary Forces, nineteenth-century men and women living in the twenty-first century. Self-reliant, humble, and stoic, they kept their stories to themselves for a lifetime, then shared them at the last possible moment, so that they, and the World War they won – the trauma that created our modern world – might at last be remembered. You will never forget them.The Last of the Doughboys is more than simply a war story: It is a moving meditation on character, grace, aging, and memory.

For the past decade, Richard Rubin sought every last living American veteran of World War I—and uncovered a forgotten great generation, and their war.

Baker & Taylor
Collected over 10 years, interviews with the last remaining World War I veterans, aged 101 to 113, paint a picture of a time and a generation that, despite memorials and history lessons, is quickly fading away.

& Taylor

Collected over ten years, presents interviews with the last remaining World War I veterans, aged 101 to 113, to paint a picture of a time and a generation that, despite memorials and history lessons, is quickly fading away.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013
ISBN: 9780547554433
Branch Call Number: 940.41 RUB
Characteristics: viii, 518 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm


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Nov 13, 2017

I loved this book. It was written in a folksy manner, as though you were having dinner with the author while he told you about his project to interview any remaining WWI veterans he could find. The reader did a great job of finding the right tone to read with & I was happy with the accents he used when he speaks the words of the veterans. Accents were subtle & natural. As well as relating what was learned in the interviews, there is a tremendous amount of info about The Great War included. It helps understand their stories & generally sets the scene for what was going on in the U. S. While the rest of the world seemed bent on self destruction. I can’t imagine how much time & effort went into researching this book! Not to mention the effort to find these veterans, determine whether they were still living & whether or not they were still lucid when he found them. It would have been interesting to have included vets from around the world as well, but he didn’t begin this project until 2003. That’s 85 years after the war ended. These survivors all had to be over 100 years old. There just wasn’t enough time to search in other countries. I didn’t figure out what method was used to determine the order of the stories. It seemed somewhat chronological, but also skipped around a lot. I’m very familiar with WWI, so that didn’t bother me. But, I would recommend beginning with the excellent Hourly History for WWI if you aren’t already a WWI buff.

Mar 17, 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed this audio despite Gardner not being my favorite narrator. The author jumps around a bit, throws in some info/comments I simply skipped over. Sometimes it was tedious & naturally he concentrated on lives of US men.

Highly recommend for history interests & especially enlightening about The Great War that few Americans even know or care about. I had this in perfect conjunction with The Great Influenza.

Every small berg, village or city in Britain has many memorials dedicated to this tragic 4 year war & people still lay wreaths each year. Little wonder, as they lost a generation of men, the economy was devastated for decades. What's further amazing is that in France the land still gives up bodies & artifacts, which it will do for another century plus.

May 25, 2014

If you have any interest in history, both World and US, you should read this book. This is the 100th year anniversary of WWI. There are no more survivors of this war. Fascinating read; I'm glad Richard Rubin did this work.

I'm adding to this review after reading it awhile ago. In the late 50s I lived in rural France in the Meuse Argonne Forest area. I would spend days hiking in the old trenches, where I would find old rusted metal parts of weapons, helmets too numerous to bother with and bayonets from all sides. It always disturbed me that LOTS of human died in this area, and that the sacrifice would be pretty much in vain, as they had another war in twenty years. Fortunately, all human remains had passed away or were buried. This area was where the US troops were blooded. Sometimes you could almost hear the screams. Eerie experience for an 11 year old kid.


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