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Over the Top

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  120 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Over the Top was first published in 1917, and was written by an American soldier who was a Machine Gunner in France during the First World War. Also includes Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches, and contains many photographs.
Paperback, Illustrated Edition
Published June 8th 2007 by Dodo Press (first published 1917)
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Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book was first published in 1917 and was a 'best seller' at the time. It should be recognised that Empey was replicating his experiences of war and not writing a fiction novel so he portrays his experiences bluntly, just as they were. The book is very fast-paced, exciting and to the point. It is fairly graphic but not unnecessarily so. It clearly conveys the traumas that every Private experienced during this war. Empey touches on the horrific reality of war and talks about his day-to-day ex ...more
Benjamin Sobieck
Mar 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For all the horror the narrator experiences as an American fighting for the British in World War I, he has a surprisingly sterile view of things. Author Empey spares no time to dissect his circumstances. He only lays out events as they happen in a blunt, journalistic fashion, detouring only to make some chest-thumping comment about defeating the Germans.

Make no mistake, this is a propaganda piece. It wouldn't have been used to rally the American war effort otherwise.

However, there's still plenty
Paul Pellicci
Apr 27, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I have read a good part of this book and have come to the conclusion that I really wanted to read Her Privates We. I have since had a discussion with my son and he confirmed it
This book has some instances where people should grieve and be outraged. This soldier's attitude is "well, let’s get on with our adventure!" He volunteers for so many training opportunities and gets' all these opportunities. I feel this is a propaganda piece and this guy was no soldier.
I read mostly to learn. I am a vetera
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Similar to Rough Riders by Theodore Roosevelt, Over the Top was a great contemporary account of World War 1. It was a nice chance to hear about a real life account of the trenches and the attitude of a soldier while experiencing it. Over the Top was almost certainly a slightly conflated account, but it remains that it was written by a man who actually experienced the trenches and wrote the book based on his experiences. It is amazing how any soldier could return home from World War 1 and live a ...more
Nov 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-us
This book provides a unique description of trench warfare during World War I. Was written by an American, who, angered by the American failure to respond to the sinking of the Lusitania, resigns from the New Jersey National Guard, travels to England, and enlists in the British Army. Serves in the trenches. Is wounded. After several months of convalescence, he is medically discharged, returns to America, and writes this book. Wrote it to provide Americans, now in the war, some understanding of co ...more
Stutley Constable
Just to be clear, I purchased an original edition of this book in a second hand store. It's copyright is 1917 and it has the original cloth-bound cover. GoodReads does not currently have this edition listed and I, for some reason, am unable to add it.

Given the time in which the book was written and that it was not written by a professional author, it reads pretty well. It's simple and easy to follow, though some of the events related are obviously meant as propaganda and at least partly to reass
Jean Poulos
This book was written in 1917 and must be accepted and judged by the time in was written, taking into consideration the use of language of the time, the culture, societal norms and so on. Arthur Guy Empey was born in Ogden Utah in 1883 and he died in 1963 in Kansas. Apparently he was angered by the failure of America to act and enter the War so he went off to England to join up. He wrote the book when he returned to the U.S. after being wounded and discharged by the British Army. He wrote this w ...more
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwi-nonfiction
While there are certainly shades of propaganda running through Empey's account of his time in the British Army, as a call to arms to his fellow Americans, Over The Top is still not as in your face as Uncle Sam's (or Kitchener's) finger. To me, this memoir is a valuable recount of life in the trenches because it was written relatively shortly after leaving them. Empey does not shy away from the darker details of life at war - although certainly he omits the extensive level of gruesomeness that la ...more
Charles Phillips
We all need to understand that this book was written in 1917, and some of it is clearly propaganda aimed at swaying Americans opinion about US entry into the war. Much of it downplays the horror or war, with a stiff upper lip kind of mock nonchalance. However, the author did fight heroically.

What earned the book my respect and interest was the fine detail about life in the trenches. The differences between Prussians and Saxons in the trenches, the morning rum, the constant battle against lice,
Noah Goats
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a few novels and memoirs of the first world war, and this book is nothing like them. The whole tone is different. It is a book with a surprising amount of humor and hope. Not that Empey shies away from the ugly aspects of that awful war. He describes what it was like to be gassed and shot in the face, to see friends die, to be wounded and dying in no mans land, to accidentally put your hand into a hole in a dead soldier's head and to pull it out all covered with blood and brains. But s ...more
Allison Kohn
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over The Top by Arthur Guy Empey
This book had me captivated from the first sentence, and they got better as I read on. This is a good history book - not a text book, but an example of what it was like to really live it. War is not fun. No war has ever been anything but horror, even now when we expect technology to keep us from the horrors every other war has caused. War is awful - and yet the powers that be keep right on subjecting the people in their "protection" to it while they sit behind des
Joshua Horn
A engaging memoir from an American who fought in World War I. Quick read. It gives a different twist on the usual mantra of the horror of WWI. Empey doesn't deny that, but he also seemed to enjoy the war in a way, and regretted he couldn't go back to fighting when he was wounded. Keep in mind that this book was also used as propaganda when American joined the war, so there was an agenda behind it.
Little known today, but this book was a bestseller during and after WW1. This is a no holds barred account of life in the trenches in the Great War. After reading the book you will not think the war was so great. Read it when I was in high school (1966), read it again recently on Google Books (free), also available for free in Kindle at Amazon.
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this book in conjunction with A German Deserters War Experience by Anonymous. It makes this book better as aresult.

Good book. Very frank and honest account. Well written in conversational tone. Like a person telling a story. Lighter hearted than All Quiet and can be both funny and very serious at times.
Ted Parr
WWI/Battle of the Somme, written by an American who enlisted in the British Infantry. Fairly graphic and empathetic account of the trenches from a soldier who was determined to fight the enemy. Unlike many such novels, the author expresses no desire to simply shock the reader with the horrors of war. I think a fairly good Trench Memoir.
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Brutality shared with us by Arthur Guy Empey is exactly as it should be. We do not need an extremely watered down account of his experience. Arthur is often condemned for trying to sound like a "tommy", but who's to say that was not his personality? Some people are more prone to absorb the personality, sayings and culture of others.
Douglas Kohn
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On the Daly life of a trench soldier.

This book was a fun look at trench soldier life in WW1. The author really made a fun and lighthearted war story about Daly life in the trenches.
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read an older edition of this book that I found at a used book store. I have read a few WWII books, so it was different and interesting to read a WWI book. I would recommend this to people who want to learn about trench warfare in 'The Great War.'
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent counterpart to Storm of Steel. This little American goes 'over there' and joins the British to fight in the Great War and does so with a sens of elan and humor. A great quick read for anyone really wanting to know what it was like on the front.
Jun 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memiors
Very strange book feels almost like war propaganda but not quite. The writing is fairly disjointed and you have no real sense of time or place because all town names are censored. The author also tries to speak like a "Tommy".
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent account of WW1 in the trenches from the British point of view.
Dan Ward
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating history of an American fighting for the British in WWI. Very well written and easy to read.
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting book. I really enjoyed reading it. No fanfare, jjust a record of the soldiers life during the war.
Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sort of the "positive" version of Robert Graves' " Goodbye to All That"
Jun 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-1, military
I read Over the Top as background material for my Masters thesis. I was doing an annotated diary of a US WWI officer from West Virginia.
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Aug 20, 2014
C. M. Kenyon
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Aug 21, 2012
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May 14, 2013
Steve Martucio
rated it it was amazing
Dec 03, 2014
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Jul 10, 2013
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