War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  470 ratings  ·  58 reviews
In 1998, Andrew Carroll founded the Legacy Project, with the goal of remembering Americans who have served their nation and preserving their letters for posterity. Since then, over 50,000 letters have poured in from around the country. Nearly two hundred of them comprise this amazing collection -- including never-before-published letters that appear in the new afterword.
...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published April 30th 2002 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2001)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
My Dearest Friend Letters of Abigail and John Adams by Abigail AdamsPensees/The Provincial Letters by Blaise PascalAdams-Jefferson Letters by Lester J. CapponWar Letters by Andrew CarrollLetters of the Century by Stephen J. Adler
Write a Letter
4th out of 6 books — 2 voters
Naked by David SedarisThe Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo MartinezSleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories by Mike BirbigliaTake the Cannoli by Sarah VowellMe Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
This American Life
76th out of 98 books — 33 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 988)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Cami Rice
This book should be required reading for all American high school students. This book is about much more than war. It is reading history through the letters of individual Americans.
Erin
Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

This was one of maybe ten books my husband owned when we got married. I remember packing it into a box when he deployed and thinking it looked interesting. Long story short it took three years and two kids for me to get around to it. Life happens right?

Carroll's collection of war letters is one of the most interesting nonfiction pieces I've had the pleasure of picking up. It is one thing to read the...more
Sarah
I think I'm in love with Andrew Carroll. I LOVE old letters, I love American history, and I especially love war histories told on a personal level. On top of it all, Carroll dedicated this book to the American women who experienced war both from the home and from the front lines, and who were primarily responsible for keeping the letters and the memories safe so that those stories would be remembered. American history with a focus on women during war? I think I just died and went to heaven.

Anywa...more
Ed
Jun 07, 2010 Ed rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: History enthusiasts
This book does not lend itself to being read word for word. I did read most of it. It works best if the reader browses rather than reading cover to cover.

The Editor, Andrew Carroll, founded the Legacy Project with the goal of preserving the letters of service people for posterity. This volume covers the Civil War, WW I, WW II, Korea, The Cold War, Vietnam, the First Gulf War, Somalia and Bosnia. For reasons that are as much personal as anything, I spent most of my time in the WW II section. It i...more
Joseph
I love primary sources and as an old retired AF guy I am still a military history junkie. This book contains letters from the Civil War and letters from more recent times to include the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, Somalia and Bosnia. There are letters from famous people like General Sherman and Teddy Roosevelt and a letter from Black Jack Pershing to his nine year old son. But there are more letters from privates, spouses, nurses and all sorts of people. I'm lucky enough to retain letters...more
Nicholas Lapp
Books like this should be MANDATORY reading in schools. Especially in an era of pushbutton wars, where you don't encounter lines for bread, or even see the bodies of the dead soldiers being returned. A heavy, intense and extremely personal collection of letters to and from people 'in the field'

You will cry, that is quaranteed, but also smile and wonder and think and now and then chuckle. This is too much to read at one sitting but it is soul stirring and wonderful. How best to remember us if not...more
Abby
An incredible collection of correspondence from the Revolutionary War through the first Gulf War. Some letters from the front to home; other letters from home to a soldier. The book includes notes after the letters as to whether the soldier made it home or not. The letters are sweet, bitter, depressed, exuberant. They combine to paint a frank portrait of war, both good and not so good.
Josh
This is an amazing book! At times you forget that this is non-fiction, getting swept into the many author's discussion of the world around them. The additional editor's notes about the situation in the world at the time the letter was written puts you in the right frame of mind. Further, incorporating what happened to the authors during the war gives that final personal touch!
Jessica
The letters within this book encompass the major American wars starting with the Civil War and Ending with the Gulf War. The chapter of Civil War letters was tedious to get through, the English language has evolved quite a bit since that era and so many of the letters, especially the ones written by semi-literate soldiers were exceptionally confusing to read. I was shocked to find the author had scrunched together, Vietnam, Bosnia and The Gulf War and together into the last chapter. I would thin...more
Ashley
This is such an absolutely amazing book. It is very hard to read without getting emotional but it is worth the tears. I can not count the number of times my heart broke during this book but it is so full of such extraordinarily personal accounts of war that I just couldn't help myself.

This book chronicles the letters of war from the Civil War to Desert Storm. There are letters from General to the President, General to General, Lieutenant to Soldier, Soldier to his family, Family to Soldier, Sol...more
Brianna
At first, I was disappointed that we didn't get to spend more time with the soldiers. Each individual letter (although framed with biographical or historical reference) to a dear acquaintance - as personal as they were - left me thinking I'd be better suited to a book which followed one soldier for his/her entire deployment.

But that feeling faded, the more letters I read. It was amazing to see what emotions resonated from World War I to the Gulf War. The differences were also telling - such as t...more
Shelley
Gearing up for the Ken Burns WW2 documentary at the end of the month! We'll call this 4.5 stars. I may go back to change it to 5.

I think the greatest thing about this was that the letters so often said the same things - doesn't matter if it was written in a letter during the Civil War or an e-mail during the first Iraq war. It was really hard to read some of the letters, feel like you know the writer, and then have the little italics under it say he died shortly after mailing it. Like the man w...more
Amber
I listened to this book on audio and I have never been so pleased to have picked audio. I was laughing and sometimes tearful at the letters in this book. It gave me such a personal connection with the men and women who were writing. Such realness of war in this book. I don't care much for traditional history writing, but I feel I got a lot of history in this book. Real history from the people who were serving in the wars. Their letters of anguish, love, happiness and heartache.

This book had let...more
Lucy
I think this was the longest-running reading of a book I've ever had. It was recommended to me by my brother and a good thought-provoking read. It didn't take me long because it was boring but because it's a collection of tons of different letters that don't fit together into a single story. So it's interesting stuff to read but not a page turner. Because each letter (or sometimes series of letters) by a specific person stands on it's own I kept finding myself walking away after reading a few in...more
Allison
This book fascinated me. I know that writing letters is becoming a lost art and so I was studying the history and also the craft of writing within it. I'll admit that I didn't get far into the Vietnam era before I had to stop. It was too hard to read. Maybe it's because my parents have talked about Vietnam with censure, or that I remember flashes of news from the first Gulf War, or that I have and had family and friends in Iraq and Afgahnistan as I was reading this, but I couldn't read it, could...more
Hope
A great book if, like me, you enjoy reading letters. Books like this one and Carroll's other book, Letters to a Nation, give you a different perspective of history - the perspective of the people who lived it. I especially enjoyed this book because it didn't just give the letters of soldiers; you also get a look into the feelings of those that the soldiers left at home. I felt that this book offered a nice range and variety of letters from famous people to common, everyday people and from wistfu...more
LA Carlson
War letters includes 200 letters from soldiers from various wars; Vietnam, Persian, WWI, WWII etc. There's nothing more personal than the words put into a letter and Andrew Carroll unexpectedly began another project; The Legacy Project to preserve these priceless testaments to what war is really like. This is a humbling book and one that should be read by all concerned about the effects of war on our soldiers.
While most Americans don't think about our ongoing war efforts on a daily basis we are...more
Amy
The sheer undertaking of collecting and editing letters written to and from those serving in major U.S. wars is baffling, which is what this author/editor did. I admit I didn't read the book cover to cover. I mostly read WWII letters, and assorted other letters. It really gave me a look at those wars from a different perspective--not from a history book or documentary where there has been time to look back and reflect, but from the perspective of how it was perceived in the moment that those peo...more
Jackie
One of my absolute favorite books. The combination of actual letters written during wartime (by both unknown and well known people) and the historical context of each series of letters (explaining a battle the letter writer refers to, for example) is quite compelling. Further, many letters conclude with a 'postscript', if you will, of what happened to the letter writer. Did he make it home? I love that all proceeds go toward veteran groups. And I love that the sentiments of war are the same from...more
Missy
Everybody (Americans should read this book! It is a compilation of letters family members sent in to the author from their ancestors who had written home during each of the wars, from the Civil War to Vietnam and the most recent wars. It is very intense. Fascinating accounts of real events told by people out on the lines- I loved the Civil War letters, and also the WWII letters have interesting accounts of the logistics from generals, what was going on on both sides, and even letters about the h...more
Alisa
Jul 10, 2008 Alisa rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Alisa by: a soldiers wife
Shelves: non-fiction
This shows inside the soldiers and their families hearts. Tissues are required. Wonderful.

I was in the bookstore just leafing through iteams and found this book. I was dating a soldier at the time whom was on his 2nd of ultimately 4.. so far.. tours in Iraq. When I read this book, I was in tears and I knew deep down that the families of these soldiers and the soldiers themselves were being heard. I was so thankfull that they would open their families, loves, situations, up to the masses.

God Bles...more
Maria
Phenomenal book. Carroll lost all his family's letters in a house fire and so wrote to Dear Abby to warn others of the danger of losing their history. He set up a post office box and volunteered to keep photocopies of anyone's letters. He received 50,000 responses. This books contains a few of them.

The narration gives some context, weaving together the different letters starting with the Civil War. FABULOUS!! I recommended that my library purchase the other audiobooks that Carroll has published...more
Lauren
The letters were absolutely fascinating, but the book was a bit hard to get through. I would recommend not approaching it as a work to read in full, but as a piece to pick up and read through bit by bit, a few letters a night. The stories are important and must be told - reading too many at a time causes them to run together. This took me over a year to finally finish, but it was a worthy opponent for that year.
Brian
Great military history read of all the wars the United States have ever been involved with. It should afford every reader the opportunity to appreciate all of the sacrifices made by each successive generation that have participated in these conflicts. It is hard to imagine our existence as a great country without these experiences and sacrifices. This comes highly recommended as a valuable historical reference.
Ethan
This book is a collection of letters from American wars since the Civil War. The letters are great snapshots in time, bringing their histories alive. But what surprised me was the quality of the editor's (/author's) comments and narrations between each letter that strings them all into a very concise and well told history of American warfare from the soldiers' point of view. Great book.
Curt Bozif
Very interesting. Carroll does a good job of balancing letters from famous individuals like William Tecumseh Sherman and George S. Patton with letters from regular folk. Carroll includes short paragraphs before and after each letter to provide some context for each. These paragraphs great little history lesson and Carroll waits to reveal the fate of each letter's author until the end.
Phillip
This is an awesome collection of letters writen to and from soldiers on both sides of wars from the American Civil War up to Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. Some will make you laugh, some will make you cry. Some might even haunt you for a while. This is a touching book that will let you see the war and the homefront through the eyes of those that were there.
Rick
I thought the way the author set up each letter (or series of letters) worked out very well and made for an easy read. This was the first book of "military history" that I have read that wasn't strictly a front-lines type of book and I enjoyed it immensely. It gave me even more appreciation for those who are left behind by the men and women on the front lines.
Linda
A very personal look at war from the perspective of people who fought and those who they wrote to. This takes you through the Civil War through the first Iraq conflit. It's amazing to see the similar themes throughout time. An emotional read - too many times you read someone's last letter home. I had a hard time reading - often having to stop to cry.
Barbara Mader
These letters and the people who wrote them: loving, teasing, urgent, painful, incredibly brave, vulnerable, kind . . . but at times I felt uncomfortable, reading these letters, that I had no right.

Letters are introduced by the editor, giving some context, and we are usually told "what happened." The outcomes are mixed, as one can imagine.

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 32 33 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Women's Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present
  • Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam
  • Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849 (Covered Wagon Women, #1)
  • Comrades: Brothers, Fathers, Heroes, Sons, Pals
  • Love Stories of World War II
  • What Was Asked of Us: An Oral History of the Iraq War by the Soldiers Who Fought It
  • Samuel Adams: A Life
  • And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II
  • The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines & the Secret Mission of 1805
  • Alistair Cooke's America
  • Duty:  A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War
  • Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past
  • We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah
  • The Women Who Wrote the War
  • War as I Knew It
  • America: The Last Best Hope, Volume 1: From the Age of Discovery to a World at War
  • The Crisis
  • Seven Events That Made America America: And Proved That the Founding Fathers Were Right All Along
Here is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History Letters of a Nation Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters---And One Man's Search to Find Them Grace Under Fire: Letters of Faith in Times of War

Share This Book