Written in a style which is more eloquent than dramatic this is an account both of the year 1917 and of four young men whom ""Fate singled out to become symbolic of America's entry into the world and her inevitable sacrifice in so doing"". The author follows the events of that year month by month by month from the severing of diplomatic relations with Germany to the harsher realities of the Great War in the trenches. Interspersed in the record of that year are the events in the lives of Lieutenant William T. Fitzsimmons, Corporal James Bethel Cresham, Private Thomas F. Enright and Private Merle D. Hay which led them, in the belief that they fought for the preservation of freedom and democracy, to the distinction of being ""the first soldiers of the United States to fall on the fields of France for justice and liberty"". The very ordinariness of these four made them special and their deaths in the raid at Bathelemont, though lacking military significance, gave the Great War a new reality for Americans. The sons of the Doughboys would go to war with considerably less naivete. A eulogy to the end of innocence.