- ASIN: B07MY6GLD5
- Publication date: January 18, 2019
- Language: English
- Print length: 220 pages
- Genre: 20th Century Social & Cultural History of the U.S.
The BookViral Review:
An absorbing read from start to finish Perlsweig’s foray into 20th Century Social & Cultural History of the U.S. proves particularly poignant given the continuing presence of Covid and the ongoing Ukraine war.
There have been many books written about the impact of World War 1 and The Spanish Flu but for all that has been written, it is refreshing to read about the lesser-known and often obscure aspects of life, as opposed to the abstract national impact we are more familiar with.
Intriguing or harrowing depending on the page Perlsweig writes in unsparing detail to make us feel fully present in his narrative. From descriptions of Springfield to his revealing and enthralling thoughts on Lawrence Reed and Gladys (Steer) Reed, few historians write with such fluency. And unlike many historians who are sketchy in the way they deal with the world beyond their principal characters, Perlsweig adds a compelling element of social texture to ensure his characters are vividly and emotionally depicted.
Indeed, a great deal of the pleasure of reading this book comes from the vivid character portraits as Perlsweig aligns historical significance with a touching concern for familial factuality. This is evident throughout the book as he brings the past to life using corroborative evidence such as the letters exchanged between Gladys and her sister Edna.
As we follow the lives of Lawrence and Gladys Reed Perlsweig takes us step by step from the tensions that culminate in the outbreak of the war and the American forces’ first offensive action of WW1 at the Battle of Cantigny on May 28, 1918, to armistice day and beyond to the Great Influenza epidemic of 1918 – 1920 with the latter brought into chilling focus with Gladys’ casualty list within the text of her letters to Edna.
It’s through Gladys’ letters and those of others that Perlsweig peoples his story with powerful and memorable characters and it’s these that take precedence throughout because ultimately it’s their story. The people of Springfield. The recollections of characters like Sergeant C. P. Bacon who wrote “ I have been up to the front and under fire and have seen all there was to see of war” and Corporal Lawrence who writes from a V.A.D. Hospital in Kent England as he recuperates from battle injuries suffered in France. It’s through their letters that Perlsweig conveys their bravery, their sacrifices and the memories they have no choice but to live with. Each of them is a testament to the bravery of those who ensure our continued freedom and way of life and those who enabled them.
The objective of any writer should be to hold the reader’s attention. To want the reader to turn the page and keep on turning until the end and this is what Perlsweig does. A must-read for fans of 20th Century Social & Cultural History of the U.S. Front Porches to Front Lines is unreservedly recommended.