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Books & Authors

World War One in Retrospect

One hundred years ago this year America entered the Great War. The brutality, innovation, successess and failures of this conflict defined the century since. These books showcase photos, personal accounts, poetry and thorough examinations of the impact of the War.

National & International

 The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks
Organized as a the 15th New York National Guard Infantry in 1913, the Hellfighters were called into Federal service as the 369th at the start of the War. The all black regiment would go on to earn their nickname through sheer will and toughness, proving themselves in some of the most intense fighting the American Forces faced. This graphic novel tells their story with all the nitty gritty details, bringing to life the day to day struggles they faced from the early days in segregated training camps, to the the front line and the hell of trench warfare.

 A Shattered Peace by David Andelman
It is hard to think about World War I without thinking about World War II, but further still impossible to imagine the modern world without the shaking up and redrawing of boundaries the War ushered in. This book in particular examines how the failure of the victors at the end of the War to create a peace settlement based on reconciliation rather than a consolidation of their own powers led to the instability of the Balkans and the Middle East, which continues to the present day.

 Above the Dreamless Dead edited by Chris Duffy
Focusing on the British soldiers turned writers known as the “Trench Poets”, this remarkable book attempts to reinterpret and reintroduce their startlingly clear vision of the War. Their poetry introduced a generation to the truths of the front lines and the human toll of the conflict, now paired with stark black and white illustration these poems live again

 A Doctor in the Great War by Andrew Davidson
From Walt Whitman to Ernest Hemingway, some of our most impressive witnesses to war have been those providing medical care on the front lines. Medic Fred Davidson spent a year in the trenches from 1914 to 1915. Featuring 250 previously unknown photographs, this is the extraordinary true story of a young doctor whose photos left behind an astonishing first hand account of life at the front of World War I.

 Bodies of War by Lisa Budreau
World War I was in many ways the war that shaped our modern military. This title takes that perspective in a thoroughly researched exploration of how and why the War altered the way America cared for, and honored the dead. Budreau uncovers the mix and implication of politics, bureaucracy, respect, and justice that saturated the development of the country's first legitimate project for returning and interning the bodies of those that made the ultimate sacrifice.

 Flags and Faces by David Lubin
From the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 to the declaration of war against Germany in 1917, American artists and designers used their skills to campaign for or against intervention. After the war, as Americans tried to forget it’s horrors, medical advances in facial reconstruction for combatants gave rise to plastic surgery and a flourishing makeup industry, elements in a new distaste for plainness and aging and obsession with youth and beauty. Flags and Faces analyzes these respective aspects of American visual culture in the shadow of the First World War


 Warrensburg in the Great War by Leona Narron 
As World War I raged, diseases such as smallpox, measles and Spanish Flu ravaged communities. Technological development was marching ahead, changing a rural life on the prairie. Ford cars appeared on the roads, airplanes appeared in the sky and movies appeared in the theaters. Read along as Leona Narron and five other small town Warrensburg, Missouri, women tell their stories of survival and celebration in these exciting times through a diary and letters written to Leona's husband, Carl Baker, serving in the war.

 Collapse at Meuse-Argonne: the Failure of the Missouri-Kansas Division
by Robert Ferrell
During World War I, the Thirty-fifth Division was made up of National Guard units from Missouri and Kansas. Composed of thousands of men from the two states, the Missouri-Kansas Division entered the great battle of the Meuse-Argonne with no battle experience and only a small amount of training, a few weeks of garrisoning in a quiet sector in Alsace. The division fell apart in five days, and the question Robert Ferrell attempts to answer is why.

 The Great Silent Majority: Missouri's Resistance to World War I
by Christopher Gibbs
It is often assumed that once the US had been forced to enter WWI, it had the full support of the American people. This book examines Missouri during WWI and draws the conclusion that in this war, that may not have been the case.

For more great articles on Missouri's role in the war, and a rich collection of digitized primary source materials please visit
partnership for digital history curation between the Springfield-Greene County Library's Local History & Geneaology Department and various organizations throughout the state. 

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