|Previously unpublished letters and a private journal provide an intimate view of World War I through the eyes of an ordinary soldier from western New York.
The United States entered World War I in April 1917, and by the end of the conflict two million American soldiers were fighting on French soil. One of them was Private Frederick A. Kittleman, who was born in the small city of Olean in western New York. After being drafted in 1918, Kittleman was sent to France as a part of an artillery regiment. While overseas, he participated in several of the large battles in the final stages of the war, including the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Throughout this time, he wrote regularly to his family.
In Somewhere in France, Thomas J. Schaeper transcribes these letters, which show a young man proud to join the army and excited about his adventures. The letters are contrasted with Kittleman’s journal, which recounts the gritty details of battle that he shielded from his family in their correspondence. Schaeper provides detailed annotations of the journal and letters, which, together with a number of illustrations, paint a vivid picture of the experiences of a private in WWI, his opinion on America’s participation in the final, bloody campaigns of the war, and the psychological and physical effects that the war had on him.
“The combination of Private Kittleman’s letters to his family and his personal journal offer a fascinating portrait of one young man’s poignant journey from eager recruit to seasoned veteran. These letters, elegantly annotated by Thomas Schaeper, tell America’s story during WWI, revealing how the war permanently altered the nation and the lives of the wartime generation.” — Jennifer D. Keene, author of Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America
“Schaeper presents an intimate look at New York doughboy, Frederick A. Kittleman. Throughout the book, Schaeper offers the appropriate context while allowing Kittleman’s voice the lead during his training, travel overseas, combat experience, and postwar activities. Kittleman’s faith and family fortified him with the strength necessary to endure and survive the Western Front—a century later, it would behoove us to learn from Kittleman’s character. Schaeper provides us with a superb representation of the doughboy.” — Edward A. Gutiérrez, author of Doughboys on the Great War: How American Soldiers Viewed Their Military Experience
“Located in the space where personal and national history intersect, Somewhere in France places us with Frederick Kittleman in training camp and on the front lines in ways battle histories seldom do. Routine details of Sunday menus and army inoculations come alive through Frederick’s entertaining voice, preserving a historical moment which shaped the twentieth century. Schaeper’s skillful editing creates a cohesive narrative linked by his own informative and engaging comments. Kudos to Schaeper for recognizing the value of this fascinating look into the life of an ordinary soldier. I couldn’t put it down.” — Celia M. Kingsbury, author of For Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home Front
Thomas J. Schaeper is Professor of History at St. Bonaventure University and the author of many books, including Edward Bancroft: Scientist, Author, Spy.