From the author of The Children's Blizzard comes an epic story of the sacrifice and service of an immigrant generation.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, one-third of the nation's population had been born overseas or had a parent who was an immigrant. At the peak of U.S. involvement in the war, nearly one in five American soldiers was foreign-born. Many of these immigrant soldiers most of whom had been drafted knew little of America outside of tight-knit ghettos and backbreaking labor. Yet World War I would change their lives and ultimately reshape the nation itself. Italians, Jews, Poles, Norwegians, Slovaks, Russians, and Irishmen entered the army as aliens and returned as Americans, often as heroes.
In The Long Way Home, award-winning writer David Laskin traces the lives of a dozen men, eleven of whom left their childhood homes in Europe, journeyed through Ellis Island, and started over in a strange land. After detailing the daily realities of immigrant life in the factories, farms, mines, and cities of a rapidly growing nation, Laskin tells the heartbreaking stories of how these men both conscripts and volunteers joined the army, were swept into the ordeal of boot camp, and endured the month of hell that ended the war at the Argonne, where they truly became Americans. Those who survived were profoundly altered and their experiences would shape the lives of their families as well.
Epic, inspiring, and masterfully written, The Long Way Home is the unforgettable true story of the Great War, the world it remade, and the men who fought for a country not of their birth, but which held the hope and opportunity of a better way of life.
[America is] never perfect, never static, never finished. We are constantly enriched by new blood, energy and ideas. As Barack Obama put it in his inaugural address, "Our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness." In this compelling book, Laskin makes this same point by following the lives of 12 American doughboys who had been born in Europe and who then returned there to fight for their adopted country in World War I. It's an imaginative concept, and Laskin mines family legends and official documents to tell the stories of these ordinary foot soldiers from Italy and Ireland, Poland and Russia, Slovakia and Norway.