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War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  811 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
In 1998, Andrew Carroll founded the Legacy Project with the goal of remembering veterans by preserving their letters for posterity. Since then, more than 50,000 war letters discovered in basements, attics, scrapbooks, and old trunks have poured in from around the country. The best of these letters are assembled in this extraordinary collection, offering unprecedented insig ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 912 pages
Published May 15th 2001 by Scribner Book Company (first published January 1st 2001)
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Ms. A. I think its outstanding. If you are an historian or lover of history you will enjoy the book. I use it with HS students and they really enjoy it as…moreI think its outstanding. If you are an historian or lover of history you will enjoy the book. I use it with HS students and they really enjoy it as well which speaks to the ability of war correspondence bridging decades.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Sarah
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Erin
May 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

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 politics or the history of a conflict, it is another to read the thoughts of the men and women who fought it. To read, in their own words, their motivations, emotions and understanding of history as it was being made.

In most cases, the individuals who put pen to paper were not
...more
Cami Rice
Jun 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Joseph
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ed
May 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Dylan
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
These extraordinary letters speak for the dead, missing in action and long gone Daddies in the USA..

Civil war..brother to brother "farewell Dear Brother we meet again beyond the tomb". Husband to wife: "did I tell you that when we passed through Petersburg on April 3rd we saw President Lincoln? He was on horseback and was surrounded by a crowd of colored people shouting 'God Bless Massa Lincoln'".

20 years on, a veteran paying a visit to the field where he was shot: "all is changed there now. Wha
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Nicholas Lapp
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jesseca Wheaton
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must say I read only some of the WWI and Civil war letters, and then skipped to the WWII sections and read through all of them. it was so neat to get another look at the war from the men who fought in it.
Michael
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: en-8-bk-e
This is a great book and a priceless treasure about the letters American soldiers wrote back home to their families during war. From the Civil to the Persian Gulf, this book shows the other side of war, one with love and compassion and truth. Soldiers pridicting their upcoming death, as well as the promises that they would come home to their families soon. Read and cherish this book until the last page.
Brianna
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Ms. A.
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't generally give 5 stars, but I can't think of a single reason to not give this compilation of primary sources 5 stars. To be clear that isn't any credit to Carroll as he only compiled them -- and yes I understand that was no small task -- but a credit to the men and women who wrote these letters.
For all the reviewers who said this should be used in American classrooms, rest assured, it is. Not in its entirety for time purposes and because as we move forward in time the letters become hard
...more
Shelley
Sep 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Ashley
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jessica
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Lucy
Jan 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Alisa
Jul 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Amy
Jul 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lisa  Carlson
Apr 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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
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
Maria
Sep 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Hope
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Missy
Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
James Holler
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can relate to Carroll's passion with preserving war correspondence. I have a small collection of military correspondence myself.
Once you hold an actual war letter in your hands, it is hard not to want to read more.
Carroll has assembled some of the best letters from American conflicts, and if you have any interest in American history, it is hard to put this book down.
Each letter is a snapshot of one day in the life of one person who was living history at that moment in time.
Juliana Rose
Andrew Carroll is king.

I got into him by reading "Here Is Where," his history of forgotten America (which was incredible).

Leave it to him to think of such a brilliant idea as compiling the history of American wars through the letters of those on the front lines.

This book is untarnished by editing, giving us the exact words and thoughts of those who were there. There is no better way to read history. Outstanding.
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.
Eric
Jun 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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