THE DOUGHBOYS by Laurence Stallings
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Told by Laurence (What Price Glory) Stallings, a combatant himself, this, part remembrance, part research, proves a rough and tumble anatomy of the AEF and the million stouthearted Yanks who shook up the Kaiser like nothing since Wagner, as they fought for almost two bloody years, swamping in and out of foxholes from the Swiss border to the North Sea. It is, par excellence, a man's book, the sort you hardly find anymore: the canvas crackles, the tone is tough, the heroes hard-hitting, all reaching ""for the throat of the enemy with Caesarean celerity""- but really. If that sounds rather dated, it is, yet there the charm lies. And why not? The honor roll is studded, from young MacArthur and Rickenbacker to Father Duffy and poet Joyce Kilmer, shot by a sniper on a regimental reconnaissance; from Merian Cooper's flaming coffin DH-4 and the almost myth-like farewell of air ace Frank Luke, to the average Joes, those with gangrene, those gassed, sporting Sam Browne belts, fumbling through French villages, courting whores, nurses, VD. As for the mighty, we have noodle-eating Clemenceau always urging battle-happy Foch to have President Wilson sack Pershing, the book's towering temperament, the Iron Commander who drew West Point blood out of everyone. And the results? Accenting the anecdotal, Stallings shows them: our boys held the Marne line, broke the Ludendorff-Hindenburg back, suffered the Mouse-Argonne agony, captured Belleau Wood and finally clinched the classic cut-off from the Rhine. A gutsy, gritty salute. Though it lacks the finely-wrought fascination of The Guns of August, it shapes up, nevertheless, as a bound-to-be popular companion piece. Got your copy, Mr. President?

Pub Date: June 10th, 1963
Publisher: Harper & Row