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The First World War was a conflict of unprecedented ferocity. After the last shot was fired and the troops marched home, approximately three million soldiers remained unaccounted for. An unassuming English chaplain first proposed a symbolic burial in memory of all the missing dead; subsequently the idea was picked up by almost every combatant country.
Acclaimed author Neil Hanson focuses on the lives of three soldiers — an Englishman, a German, and an American — using their diaries and letters to offer an unflinching yet compassionate account of the front lines. He describes how each man endured nearly unbearable conditions, skillfully showing how the Western world arrived at the now time-honored way of mourning and paying tribute to all those who die in war.
“An unforgettable picture of life in the hottest sectors of the Western Front.”
—The New York Times
As good as anything I have read about World War I – hard to stomach but impossible to forget.”
—Paul Laskin, The Seattle Times
“Stunning. . . . Unknown Soldiers tells you vividly how it felt when the world, then believed to be on a firm foundation, began to stagger and crash.”
—The Los Angeles Times
“Hanson has rescued a rich store of letters from the attics of three nations, using them to remind readers both of the horrors of war and the obligations of memory.”
—The Christian Science Monitor