“Above the sounds of misery, the sergeant called out, ‘Next stop boys, the Gates of Hell.'”
World War I sent Americans across an ocean to fight on foreign soil to save the lives of people who they didn’t know. World War I had Germans gaining ground and taking more of Europe for their own. World War I had French and British seeking to win for both country and glory. World War I introduced aircraft, tanks and poison gas to the battlefield. World War I changed a whole generation and set the stage for World War II.
I often read historical fiction that is set in World War II, but not much set in World War I. When I saw To the Last Man by Jeff Shaara ebook for sale on BookBub, I grabbed it right away. I knew it would take a commitment to read, as any Shaara book does, but that it would be worth it, as any Shaara book is. This book put a read time of at least 16 hours for its estimate on my Kindle. I knew I would learn a lot about World War I and I did.
To The Last Man tells the story of WWI through several characters. It is historical fiction in that the characters are real and heavily researched, but conversations are created to tell the story. Lufbery is an American pilot fighting with the French before America joins the war and is one of the best and an ace. Richthofen is better known as the Red Baron and shoots down more airplanes than anyone on both sides of the war. Temple is a Marine who fights when America joins the war and keeps wondering why he is still alive as his buddies perish from machine gun fire or shelling. Pershing is America’s general, who has Patton working in his command. The characters of those in power in Britain, France and Germany also come alive as the story unfolds. The descriptions of the training, the battles, the frustrations and the victories come alive in this book as Shaara tells them all through the eyes of men who were actually there. I really enjoyed the in-depth story of the pilots and how they would fight in the air. They would often get a new plane and have to learn to fly it then and there with no training. I feel like I know these men after reading this book.
If you love history, you will love this book. It is long, but worth every minute spent reading it. I know a lot more about World War I than I knew before. I was almost sad when it ended and I had to leave the characters. I won’t forget this book.