Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters--and One Man's Search to Find Them

Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters--and One Man's Search to Find Them

by Andrew Carroll
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Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters--and One Man's Search to Find Them by Andrew Carroll

Andrew Carroll spent three years traveling throughout the United States and around the world to seek out the most powerful and unforgettable letters ever written during American wars.

Behind the Lines is the result of that extraordinary trip and represents the first book of its kind: a dramatic, intimate, and revealing look at warfare as seen through the personal correspondence of US and foreign troops and civilians who have experienced major conflicts firsthand. From handwritten missives penned during the American Revolution to e-mails from Afghanistan and Iraq, Behind the Lines captures the full spectrum of emotions — exhilaration, fear, devotion, despair, courage, heartache, patriotism, rage, and even humor — expressed in times of war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743256179
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 09/26/2006
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 683,086
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Andrew Carroll is the editor of three New York Times bestsellers, including Letters of a Nation and War Letters. Visit

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Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters--and One Man's Search to Find Them 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
BEHIND THE LINES is a powerful collection of fragments of thoughts that were initiated over the past two hundred plus years of war scars. Andrew Carroll continues his commitment to bring the reality of war to the forefront of our attention and I know no better manner for anti-war statements than the words found in this illuminating and horrifying book.Carroll approaches war as a panacea - an evil that has been with us around the globe for centuries and just continues unabated. Many poets and writers are struggling to make the public cognizant of the horrors of war, but Carroll scans American involvement in wars from the Revolutionary War to the present and in doing so he demonstrates the madness that we must learn to stop. Letters, documents, memos, soldiers' notes as well as civilians' responses fill these pages, some eloquent, some simply pitiful, and some stoic as well as some encouraging. The messages are not skewed in a way that makes Carroll seem like he is ranting. Rather he lets the words of the living and the dead speak truths far larger than fiction.This is a beautifully conceived volume that for the sake of the survival of civilization belongs on the reading desks of everyone. Tough reading, this, but enormously informative and important. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. I found it really interesting, and was unable to put it down. Behind the lines gives readers a better understanding of what soldiers and their families go through. After reading this book, I believe that I have a better appreciation for Veterans and our troops serving our country. This is definately a recommended book in my opinion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This collection of letters--both civilian and miltary--is a wonderfully informative work, illustrating the full range in agonizing perspectives on war. It is amazing to see how many talented writers there were/are among ordinary citizens -- some letters written by the uneducated, full of grammatical and spelling errors yet honest and insightful and truly beautiful. Unfortunately, the book is somewhat flawed from an editorial standpoint. The headings are awkward and often unhelpful. The use of italics for some portions of letters and roman for others is unnecessarily confusing. Dates and locations of letters might be more clearly defined as well so that the reader can quickly and efficiently become oriented. The overall thematic organization of the letters is brilliant within these themes, however, the reader can easily become confused and annoyed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Andy Carroll¿s last book ¿ War Letters ¿ showed what war is like by reprinting letters of American combatants who had ac-tually fought those wars. (I should confess that one of my letters about Vietnam was reprinted in that book.) Andy¿s new book ¿ Behind The Lines ¿ shows what war is like with reprints of letters from both combatants and non-combatants - civilian women and children. This book also in-cludes letters written by non-Americans as well as Americans. Andy limited the letters to those from the wars in which Amer-ica was involved. Thsee wars range from the Revolutionary War (there¿s a great letter from a Hessian soldier [Hessians were German soldiers ¿leased¿ to Great Britain to fight as mer-cenaries] giving his impressions of America and the poor fighting ability of the rebels), the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam (there¿s a good letter from a soldier asking his parents to forgive him for having killed a man in combat), Kosovo and Gulf Wars I and II. While many letters deal with combat, other letters show the many faces of war. At times, war can be terrifying, funny, absurd, touching and hilarious. (You know you¿ve been fighting too long when the same incident strikes you as both terrifying and hilarious.) One letter was a love letter written by a California woman to a Swiss national. In fact, the letter was complete fabrication. The Swiss national actually was a German spy traveling in Great Britain during WWII. The letter was created to make his cover seem more believable. One letter was from a brother who had enlisted in the Union army in the U.S. Civil War. He wrote to berate his brother for having enlisted in the Confederate army. One letter was from a German wife to her husband¿s company commander. She requested that her husband be given a leave ¿because of our sexual relationship.¿ She wanted her husband to come home so they can have sex. The commander¿s sympathetic reply is included in the book. One letter writer came up with a list of ¿The Army¿s Ten Commandments,¿ which should bring a smile to anyone who served in the Army. Commandment number four is, ¿Thou shall not laugh at second lieutenants.¿ One writer came up with a letter filled with multiple choice op-tions. By checking various options, he could either proclaim his undying love or write about an upcoming/ imminent/current/recent military offensive. Several letter writers tried to warn their families that they should prepare for a slight adjustment period when the men come home. One Vietnam writer warned, ¿If it should start raining, pay no attention to his joyous scream as he strips naked, grabs a bar of soap, and runs outdoors for a shower.¿ (As a Vietnam veteran, I found that letter puzzling. Doesn¿t everybody shower that way?) The book is divided into several themes that illustrate the dif-ferent faces of war: friendship; combat; laughing though the tears; civilians caught in the crossfire; and the aftermath of war. As a Vietnam Infantry pointman and squad leader, I view a book about war differently from most people. Andy¿s book showed me a side of war I had never considered ¿ its impact on non-combatants ¿ who could neither run away (what any sane person does when people are trying to kill him) nor fight (if you¿re going to die anyway, why not die fighting?). The book also showed me what I already knew from my own experience: that war changes forever those touched by it. One Vietnam veteran was haunted by the fact that several of his comrades had died rescuing him after he was seriously wounded. So decades after the end of the Vietnam war, he left a letter at the Vietnam Memorial thanking those men for their sacrifice. That letter is included in the book. Don¿t buy this book if you are looking for stories about triumphant soldiers marching in v