"We all hit the ground as the machine guns raked the hillside, clipping the brush. A storm of bullets was whistling over us for a while, then passed on."

Through interviews, memoirs, diary entries, and historical research, Lambert has created a book that puts readers in the thick of World War I. By chronicling the experiences of an individual soldier, the author’s grandfather, Lambert puts what was once called “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars,” in a human perspective as well as a historical one.

The author begins by tracing multiple causes that led to the First World War. While the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand has always been credited as the spark that ignited the conflict, Lambert explains how increasing nationalism among a number of nations, the quest for expanded boundaries, and revenge for previous perceived wrongs all combined to plunge Europe, then the world, into war. The book really shifts into high gear, however, once Lambert begins to recount his grandfather’s induction into the military and his journey across the Atlantic where Allied shipping was always in danger of being attacked by German undersea boats. Once in theatre, actual diary entries show how this farm boy from Illinois dealt daily with the boredom of repetition, the fear and exhilaration of combat, the deprivation of hunger, and much more.

Lambert is a confident writer who mixes his material well. Strategy and tactics, geopolitical agendas, troop movements, diverse weaponry, and individual battles are covered with insight and conveyed with intelligence. He also includes photographs and maps that add authenticity. His major accomplishment, though, is reminding us that wars are not really about the dates, places, or statistics. They’re about the human beings who bear the brunt of the storm.

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