Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Doughboys over there: Soldiering in World War I

The Doughboys over there: Soldiering in World War I

Susan Provost Beller
For ages 9 to 12
Lerner, 2007   ISBN: 978-0822562955

Many people today have little or no idea why World War I began nor do they appreciate what a costly and terrible conflict it was. A shocking number of people lost their lives as a result of the war, and indeed so many young men died, that for Britain and France and Germany it was as if a whole generation was wiped out. What people do not realize is that this "forgotten war" had an enormous impact on the world. Not only did millions die, but because of this conflict, the seeds for another war were planted.

America did not take an active role in the war until 1917 but many young Americans did get involved before that time, choosing to volunteer their services as military and medical personnel. Then, in 1917, America joined in and began to send their troops to France. One thing that the American generals were not willing to do however was to offer up their young men to be used as gun fodder. They were determined that their soldiers would help the English and the French by making a difference, by fighting, and not just by sitting in trenches and getting killed or dying from disease.

The English and French were not altogether pleased when they discovered that their new comrades were not going to fight the war their way. But they soon came to respect the American doughboys for there was no doubt that these soldiers had courage and determination. There was job to be done and they were eager to get to it. And so they did, often at great cost and with much loss of life.

In this excellent book, which is one of the titles in the "Soldiers on the Battlefront" series, readers will not only learn about how the war was conducted but they will also find out what it was like to be a World War I soldier. They will read the words of soldiers who were there, words which give us a graphic picture of life on the western front. We learn how miserable life was for the soldiers as they battled with lice, disease, the mud, bad food, rats, homesickness, gas attacks, and the ever present danger that they could be killed at any moment. We come to appreciate that the doughboys were indeed a special group of men who deserve to be remembered for all time.