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 American Killed in World War I
George Edwin Ellison
The day was November 11, , and the clocks were about to strike Millions of soldiers across the world knew the Armistice was about to come into effect, but one American man had other ideas. Sergeant Henry Gunther was about to make his mark on his history by being killed at He would become the last soldier to die in the First World War. Back home in Baltimore, Maryland, he suffered prejudice from fellow Americans who disliked his surname and German heritage.
It is believed , British personnel were killed during the four bloody years of the Great War - and the last man to be included in that heartrending statistic was from Yorkshire. But 90 minutes before the Armistice at 11am on 11 November , Private Ellison was shot dead by a German sniper while patrolling woods near the Belgian town of Mons. His widow Hannah Maria and only child James must have been heartbroken. Private Ellison had survived four years of trench warfare, including fighting in the Battles of Ypres and the Somme without suffering any injuries, only to die on the cusp of peace. In a further twist to his tragic story, the one-time coal miner is buried in St Symphorien Military Cemetery at Mons - just feet away from the grave of John Parr, the first British soldier to die in World War One.
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. And, in light of the passing of the Espionage Act , it was clear what kinds of letters should be written by those on the front lines. When the author James M.
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.
Shortly after 5 a. Rejecting German calls to immediately halt hostilities, Allied commander Ferdinand Foch dictated that the guns would fall silent at 11 a. Although the freshly signed armistice mandated that Germany evacuate France in two weeks, some American commanders refused to call off their attacks to liberate French territory that the Germans already agreed to relinquish. They thought things would be quiet. The Allies, though, wanted to show the Germans that they were going to press until the final hour so they knew they were serious about the armistice terms. On the morning of November 11, the men of the th found themselves on the far-right flank of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. After experiencing nearly two months of uninterrupted combat, the regiment found no abatement in the hours following the armistice signing, seizing the town of Ville-devant-Chaumont, 10 miles north of Verdun.