By Leonard V. Smith, Joshua K. Brown
Pellissier’s diary and his letters to family members in the United States exhibit a landscape of this ghastly conflict: from the horror of being below hearth with 3 thousand German shells falling at the French troops each day to the monotony of lengthy quiet hours spent in chilly, rainy trenches. He writes of the grinding and indecisive personality of the battling within the Vosges and of the virtually ritualistic shelling and restricted tactical offensives, reminiscent of the assault at Steinbach in December 1914. His later letters have been written from the health center, from officer education university, and from front on the Somme. He relays information of all of the significant battlefields—Flanders, Verdun, Russia, Austria, Gallipoli, Italy, Serbia, and the Suez. He additionally reviews at the new know-how that modified the character of warfare: the laptop gun, new airplanes, Uboats, stronger artillery, barbed twine, and poison gases.
Drama and a sympathetic human voice mix to make this account of a littlereported French entrance a helpful addition to the literature on global conflict I. no matter if vacationing the battlefields of Europe, getting to know the historical past of the conflict, or sitting in an armchair at domestic, readers will locate Pellissier a competent and personable guide.
The greatnephew of Robert Pellissier and a minister through profession,
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Extra resources for A Good Idea of Hell: Letters from a Chasseur a Pied (Texas a & M University Military History Series)
German shells do not burst, or at least only two out of ten. He knows a soldier who was struck by one falling on his arm, got a broken arm, that was all. Another had his knapsack put out of commission in the same way. 9 Turcos carrying the heads of Prussian soldiers in their bags? Now come, that is arrant nonsense, nonsense I say; a head never, but ears which have been cut oﬀ, that is a fact; that happens and not infrequently. The turcos have long knives; ﬁrst they use the bayonet, then the knife; it is done before you have time to say Jack Robinson.
To B——: Hurrah! we are again in a state of communication. The letters you sent me at Stanford were forwarded and came two days ago. Your last letter, written when you received mine from New York was delivered yesterday. So I feel ﬁne. That was a deuce of a stretch without any news from you. I feared for a while that it might continue ad inﬁnitum. I had an idea that you must have gone back to the United States. Life just now is more puerile than tragic. There is nothing stirring in military training.
Then, after lamenting considerably, she gave two pennies to the child of the other woman. A fat traveling man is sure that the Germans are all in. He repeats it over and over again. A wizened little old man, who has been traveling four nights without a ticket, tells of a great many happenings, putting on them his own interpretation. After leaving Chartres, he saw troops without number and navy guns sent northward to Verdun, most likely; all the money he has is seven francs. He fought in and he shows his deeply scarred hand; he also explains that in a battle he lost a tiny piece of the fattest part of his leg, without at ﬁrst realizing the loss; only, the battle being over, he too felt a certain coolness, and he realized that the entire seat of his trousers was gone.