Brianna's Reviews > War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars

War Letters by Andrew Carroll
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's review
Apr 14, 2012

really liked it
Read from April 07 to 13, 2012

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 Each individual letter (although framed with biographical or historical reference) to a dear acquaintance - as personal as they were - left me thinking I'd be better suited to a book which followed one soldier for his/her entire deployment.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 the censorship of earlier letters, and the sense of purpose that was present in some of the wars.

In the World Wars, most of these soldiers were shocked by combat conditions, and had to learn the hard way that wars weren't glorious, and basic necessities like antibiotics and clean water were sometimes impossible to come by.

Some wrote home to discourage younger family members to go to war.
Some pretended they weren't really in danger, and spent most of their letters reassuring their sweetheart back home that all was well

Almost without fail, everyone asked for more contact - more letters from the folks back home.

The letters and the accompanying text clearly illustrate that soldiers are ordinary people forced into extraordinary circumstances. So much of the text illustrates how awful things were, how unglorious war really is, and how many people suffered. Yet, the fact that these letters are full of courage in the face of (definitely not the absence of) fear could inspire almost anyone to think about joining the armed forces. (Maybe now I need to read a book of letters from soldiers in boot camp, or posted stateside)

This book feels like a celebration of the individual, the everyday wo/man, and the common soldier. And it also feels like a love letter to letters.

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