Based on an astonishing collection of letters and diaries harvested by Andrew Carroll and the Center for American War Letters over many years, My Fellow Soldiers
tells the story of the American experience in World War I with General John Pershing in the foreground against a landscape of extraordinary voices, to convey the grassroots perspective of American doughboys, war nurses, and their families with extraordinary intimacy and power.
Andrew Carroll’s portrait of General Pershing, the US Commander in Europe, is a revelation. The scope of the challenge facing Pershing in World War I, and his ultimate mastery of it, were truly remarkable. Leading a military force that on the eve of its entry into the war was downright primitive compared to the European combatants, the general surmounted enormous obstacles to command 1.5 million American soldiers to decisive victories.
But Pershing himself–often misunderstood as a starchy, even wooden leader–concealed inner agony from those around him: almost two years before the US entered the war, his beloved wife and three young daughters perished in a house fire; only his six-year-old son Warren survived. Even as Pershing steered the American war effort, he wrote his son heartfelt letters from the front. Before leaving for Europe, Pershing also had a passionate romance with George Patton’s sister, Anita. But once he was in France, Pershing fell madly in love with a young painter named Micheline Resco, whom he later married in secret.
Woven throughout Pershing’s story are the voices and experiences of an extraordinary group of American men and women, gathered from a stunning cross-section of stories and letters gathered by Carroll, from both the famous and unheralded, including Harry Truman, Ernest Hemingway, Teddy Roosevelt, and his youngest son Quentin. If Pershing provides the heart of this story, the chorus of these “lesser-known” voices that enfold it make the high stakes of this epic American saga piercingly real. Never before has the war’s profound impact on America been conveyed with such humanity and emotional force.