To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara
Jeff Shaara has enthralled readers with his New York Times bestselling novels set during the Civil War and the American Revolution. Now the acclaimed author turns to World War I, bringing to life the sweeping, emotional story of the war that devastated a generation and established America as a world power.Spring 1916: the horror of a stalemate on Europe’s western front. France and Great Britain are on one side of the barbed wire, a fierce German army is on the other. Shaara opens the window onto the otherworldly tableau of trench warfare as seen through the eyes of a typical British soldier who experiences the bizarre and the horrible–a “Tommy” whose innocent youth is cast into the hell of a terrifying war.
In the skies, meanwhile, technology has provided a devastating new tool, the aeroplane, and with it a different kind of hero emerges–the flying ace. Soaring high above the chaos on the ground, these solitary knights duel in the splendor and terror of the skies, their courage and steel tested with every flight.
As the conflict stretches into its third year, a neutral America is goaded into war, its reluctant president, Woodrow Wilson, finally accepting the repeated challenges to his stance of nonalignment. Yet the Americans are woefully unprepared and ill equipped to enter a war that has become worldwide in scope. The responsibility is placed on the shoulders of General John “Blackjack” Pershing, and by mid-1917 the first wave of the American Expeditionary Force arrives in Europe. Encouraged by the bold spirit and strength of the untested Americans, the world waits to see if the tide of war can finally be turned.
From Blackjack Pershing to the Marine in the trenches, from the Red Baron to the American pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille, To the Last Man is written with the moving vividness and accuracy that characterizes all of Shaara’s work. This spellbinding new novel carries readers–the way only Shaara can–to the heart of one of the greatest conflicts in human history, and puts them face-to-face with the characters who made a lasting impact on the world.
The last soldier killed in WWI died one minute before the war ended
Note that this may well be a staged propaganda image. He had just been busted down in rank for criticizing the war in a letter he wrote home, and he wasn't happy about it. Luckily for millions of other soldiers and civilians in Europe, everyone knew the Armistice would come into effect on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of This is why so many question why Sgt. Gunter charged a German machine gun nest at that same day. Gunther and his unit came across a German position north of Verdun on Nov. As they took cover from the machine guns, they received word that the war would be over in less than an hour.
Henry Nicholas John Gunther June 6, — November 11, was an American soldier and likely the last soldier of any of the belligerents to be killed during World War I. Gunther had recently been demoted, and was seeking to regain his rank just before the war ended. Being of recent German-American heritage, Gunther did not automatically enlist in the armed forces as many others did soon after the War was declared in April In September , he was drafted and quickly assigned to the th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed "Baltimore's Own"; it was part of the larger th Brigade of the 79th Infantry Division. Promoted as a supply sergeant , he was responsible for clothing in his military unit, and arrived in France in July as part of the incoming American Expeditionary Forces. A critical letter home, in which he reported on the "miserable conditions" at the front and advised a friend to try anything to avoid being drafted, was intercepted by the Army postal censor.
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Henry Gunther died at a. But it was only one year earlier that Gunther had been demoted after military censors intercepted a letter he sent home that criticized the war. Gunther lost his role as a sergeant and became a private in the Army, slipping down multiple rankings. As strange as receiving such a punishment for a mere letter may seem, correspondence was about more than just keeping family up to date. It was also a kind of morale-boosting exercise for people back home.