Deliver Us from Evil: A Southern Belle in Europe at the Outbreak of World War I

Overview


On August 1, 1914, as the Great War erupted in Europe and financial and physical resources were realigned toward the war effort, some 120,000 American travelers scattered across the Continent suddenly found themselves in the midst of a vast warzone without means of escape. Among the stranded Americans was twenty-five-year-old Nancy Johnson, the daughter of influential U.S. Congressman Ben Johnson of Kentucky. Using Nancy Johnson's letters and photographs, her granddaughter Mary W. Schaller recounts the harrowing...
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Overview


On August 1, 1914, as the Great War erupted in Europe and financial and physical resources were realigned toward the war effort, some 120,000 American travelers scattered across the Continent suddenly found themselves in the midst of a vast warzone without means of escape. Among the stranded Americans was twenty-five-year-old Nancy Johnson, the daughter of influential U.S. Congressman Ben Johnson of Kentucky. Using Nancy Johnson's letters and photographs, her granddaughter Mary W. Schaller recounts the harrowing chronicle of Johnson's flight from war-torn Europe.
A native of Bardstown, Kentucky, Johnson (1890-1982) had grown weary of five consecutive seasons of the Washington, D.C., social scene in her father's shadow. In May 1914 she opted to undertake a modern Grand Tour of Europe with her friend Ethel Norris. Armed with letters of introduction written by President Woodrow Wilson, Johnson and Norris anticipated lavish travels through Europe. The duo was in Switzerland en route from Venice to Paris when they learned of the German declaration of war on Russia. With civilian train service to Paris cancelled, Johnson and Norris retreated to Venice, where Johnson discovered that she could no longer cash checks at the Italian banks. The young women struggled to reach Genoa, where a group of wealthy American travelers, including Frederick Vanderbilt, were chartering ships for their fellow citizens.
Johnson and Norris were among the elite four hundred passengers on the first ship to leave Genoa, but the two-week voyage home proved to be as tension-filled as the flight that came before it. Their vessel was repeatedly stopped by British warships and had to evade attack by German submarines. Despite her trials Johnson returned safely to Washington in late August.
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Meet the Author


A native of Washington, D.C., Mary W. Schaller is the award-winning author and editor of sixteen books and plays, which have collectively sold more than one million copies worldwide. She lives in Burke, Virginia, with her husband, Martin.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Series Editor's Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

Prologue 1

Chapter 1 “Bred in Old Kentucky” 3

Chapter 2 Going to Europe 20

Chapter 3 Innocents Abroad 31

Chapter 4 The Powder Keg of Euopr 46

Chapter 5 The Fuse Is Lit 53

Chapter 6 The Last Weeks of the Gilded Age 81

Chapter 7 “A madman wants to change the map” 90

Chapter 8 “It is a king's war” 94

Chapter 9 “I want a ship that's westward bound” 105

Chapter 10 Gilded Refugees 116

Chapter 11 America for Me 130

Epilogue 142

Appendix: “But Think of the Tales They'll Have!” 147

Notes 149

Bibliography 161

Index 165

About the Author 171

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