Book Review: To the Last Man

To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War

To the Last Man, by Jeff Shaara is the semi-fictional account of several men in World War I. The book covers two main three main areas of the war. The Lafayette Espadrille and The Red Baron, General Pershing, and a Marine; Private Rosco Temple.

 

The first section of the book lays the ground work and the second section brings the air war into play. The air war is covered from the point of view of French born America Raoul Lufberry telling the story of the Lafayette Espadrille and Baron von Richtofen telling the German side in alternating Chapters. The writing compelling, telling both personal thoughts and giving an history of events and information on the planes. It is easy to forget you are reading a novel and not reading a memoir.

 

In the middle of the second section General Pershing is introduced and becomes part of the alternating chapters. His story continues into the third section which primarily covers Private Roscoe Temple. As much as I am a sucker for Biplane stories in World War I, this Marine is much more taken in by Shaara’s story of Pvt. Temple. First, Shaara does what few people outside of the Marine Corps do, and that is capitalize the “M” in Marine. Secondly, every story I heard from bootcamp was in the book “Retreat, hell we just got here.” to the Marines at Belleau Wood and the renaming of the woods in their honor. Shaara does a wonderful job of capturing the Marine spirit in the book. Everything from Marines complaining they are issued army uniforms without a Marine insignia bravery in battle. Pvt. Temple is a filler in a army squad that is mostly gunned down. The army sergeant wants the squad to hold their position because there are too many Germans to fight. Pvt Temple speaks up that if there are to many Germans we need to fix that. The sergeant is taken back and assumes Temple is an officer. Temple replies “ I’m not an officer, just a Marine.”

 

Overall a great read.

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