In the Trenches 1914-1918
by Glenn R. Iriam
Trafford Publishing

"If the fathers and mothers at home could only be here to actually see pale set faces rushing calm and unresisting to meet their God."

World War II gets a lot of press. Bookstores often have special sections in the History area devoted exclusively to it. World War I rarely claims such attention, yet the suffering and brutality of the common foot soldier in that war often eclipses every major conflict since. The author's compiled and edited memoirs of his father paint a candid portrait of what life was like for the average man in the trenches. Frank S. Iriam joined the Canadian Army in the summer of 1914 right after the Great War began in Europe. After some training in Europe he arrived in France to begin what would become one of the most soul-crushing and physically-demanding periods of his life. At first, the war was more of an adventure for Frank and his companions. The bodies were few and taking potshots at targets such as the enemy's stovepipe was a bit of a lark. But as the body count started to rise and the years dragged on, the true horror started to set in. Friends started to die, the gas attacks took their toll, and soon the strain and dysentery began to cause even the bravest soldiers to shake uncontrollably.

Iriam's matter-of-fact descriptions are both haunting and compelling. Glimpses of others such as the hospitalized Gurkha and his bag of German ears and fingers are as intriguing as they are disquieting. By offering readers a look at the ordinary moments of WW I as it was experienced by one man, Iriam has given us a fresh look at a frequently forgotten war.

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