This is a worm's eye view of the American doughboy's lot during World War I. It is told mainly through excerpts from the letters and diaries of unknown privates and corporals, and reveals their high illusions during training and later disillusion in France. When Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany, more men had already been killed at Verdun alone than had died during our entire Civil War. As soon as they saw through the slogans, they wanted simply to get their job done and get home. Quite the reverse of the doughboys' vaunted amours with French women, the great majority of them lived lives of enforced (if involuntary) continence. Tens of thousands of Negro soldiers were turned into laborers and treated in second-class fashion, although their lot improved as they began getting stripes. Some of the comments of the doughboys writing home are inexcusably boorish (""Why I just couldn't kill them dead enough it didn't seem like. Believe me it was some fun as well as exciting."") But others, recalling truly pitiful sights from the trenches, and deeds of heroism and cowardice, are profoundly moving. The descriptions of trench warfare are immediate and exciting.