The Last of the Doughboys by Richard Rubin

The Last of the Doughboys

For the past decade, Richard Rubin sought every last living American veteran of World War I--and uncovered a forgotten great generation, and their war.

Details The Last of the Doughboys

TitleThe Last of the Doughboys
Release DateMay 21st, 2013
PublisherMariner Books
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, War, World War I

Reviews The Last of the Doughboys

  • Joseph
    The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World by Richard Rubin is a history of World War I with an interesting feature. He interviewed all the living World War I veterans could find which was quite a limited set of people; all over one hundred years old. The interviews took place in 2003 and since then the last remaining veteran has passed on. In between the interviews Rubin gives the reader a history lesson. Altho...
    A few minutes ago (it's now 9:29 PM EST as I write this), I finished reading this book. I felt both grateful for the considerable work the author put into travelling across the country (starting in the summer of 2003) to interview personally as many of the surviving U.S. veterans (men and women alike) of the First World War as could be found --- and thankful to hear these veterans speak of their experiences. This has a special resonance to me bec...
  • happy
    Starting in 2003 the author interviewed as many surviving World War One veterans as he could find. This is book is not just the story of the veterans, but also of Mr. Rubin’s search for them and the troubles he had in finding and interviewing extremely old people. All of the the interviewees were between 101 and 113 yrs old.In telling their story, Mr. Rubin recounts the difficulty he had in finding them. One would think the VA would have a list...
  • Zahir
    Richard Rubin's does a great job of bringing World War I to light. As the tag line of the book states, World War I is largely forgotten, and the generation of men and women involved in that global war were largely ignored, as they are overshadowed by the next generation of vets who fought in World War II. The strongest element of this book (some may strongly disagree) is that Rubin isn't trying to write academically. Rather, he writes from an ext...
  • Don
    I try to be stingy with books that I give 5 stars to. Grading on a curve makes a 5 star book stand out as it should. That said, I have to give this book an unexpected 5 stars.I picked up the audio version of the book to listen to while I did yard work. This being the 100th anniversary of the start of WW I, I thought it would be an interesting read, despite the fact that I am already pretty well read on the subject.This book will appeal to an audi...
  • Leanda Lisle
    This was part of my reading as a judge for the Guggenheim-Lehrman Military History Prize - and one of my favourites. Oral histories can be pretty weak, but this one is original, moving, and witty. Rubin interviews the last living Americans to have served in WWI - all well over a hundred years old. They are a very mixed bag - some never even got to France - but that makes it all the more interesting. We get an unusually rounded view. Its not all a...
  • Mark
    Cashed it in early on this book. While I enjoyed some of the remembrances by surviving World War I veterans and appreciated Rubin's efforts to tie their memories into larger themes, in the end it felt like he was so overawed at finding centenarians to talk to that he felt obligated to use all their stories, and as anyone who has dealt with a very old person knows, sometimes those memories are vague or their role in the war was not interesting eno...
  • John Nellis
    I found this to be a very informative and enjoyable book. The stories from the last living Great War veterans, along with the stories and facts added by the author to tell the tale of America in World War One. It gave me a better understanding of what America went through during the Great War. As well as how the first world war shaped the world and this country. This was an easy read and kept me interested from beginning to end.
  • Philip
    Brilliant concept and almost flawless execution. I know I said in an earlier review of Winston Groom’s A Storm in Flanders that it feels wrong to say I actually “enjoyed” a book about such a horrific period of history, but Last of the Doughboys was just a solid pleasure from it’s amazing first sentence (see below) to the very end – fascinating, informative and surprisingly entertaining. Most – but not all – of the book is told as or...
  • Elliott
    I loved this book, loved, loved, loved it. This is such a beautiful book in every aspect, in its construction, and its execution there can no longer be any parades of this sort ever again to paraphrase another book I love on this time period, and the passage of this time period-which is now not just gone in a spiritual sense, but in a literal sense as well. They're all gone now, every one of them. I love this book because of my own connection to ...
  • Glynn
    This is an amazing book. The author set out to interview as many WWI veterans as he could find. In 2003 this was a difficult task. Most of the doughboys that he found were between 104 and 113 years old already. The US seems to have all but forgotten these veterans. To date, there is still no US National monument honoring these people. As opposed to “the greatest generation,” this is the “forgotten generation.” The author was only mostly s...
  • Michael
    One of the best books I've read in 2013. Rubin goes on a quest to interview as many living veterans of the first World War as possible - a daunting task considering that all of them are at least 100 years old. The resulting story is a compelling biography and a very approachable "average joe's" history of the war. Between the interview chapters, Rubin talks about the war's effects on the people back in the US. The whole thing was very enjoyable a...
  • Christopher Saunders
    Richard Rubin's The Last of the Doughboys is a work of journalism than a history book, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Rubin interviewed the last surviving World War I veterans in the 2000s and combined that with a broad, conversational overview of the war and American culture in the early 20th Century. The book's light on battlefield experiences but it's excellent exploring topics like jingoistic war songs, racial and gender segregation, an...
  • Dany Le Goaix
    Expected alot more. The author's continuous insertion of himself into the conversations was really annoying and distracting. Too much time spent on historical context of each individual he was interviewing. I was hoping to get individual perspectives of the war but these were far and few between. Really perplexed on how well reviewed this book is. Good have done with some serious editing.
  • Allison
    Excellent book. How fortunate that Mr. Rubin embarked on his project when he did, had he waited another year or two it may have been too late! WW1 Seems like such a long-ago war, it's been 99 years since the start of it all. But hearing from actual living veterans makes it seem much more recent and relevant. Highly recommended for any history buff.
  • Alex
    Completely fantastic. Indispensable to an understanding of the American experience of WWI. Not to mention what it might be like to be a centenarian. A great great book.
  • Paige Gordon
    I was particularly interested in reading this book as my Dad served in WW1 and was gassed in the trenches of France. Though he survived he always had a speech difficulty from it. He never talked much about his experiences there but the stories from Rubin's book helped me understand the horrors as well as some of the amusing incidents from the war. Thank you, Richard for taking all your time and expenses in doing this.
  • Regina Mclaughlin
    American thinkers, including Rubin, are pressing new juice out a forgotten national experience. It's good that they're having their revisionist whack at deprunifying World War I. As the author gamely points out, such scholarship is no longer the construct of British writers who may be tempted to confound the term "doughboy" with "sad sack." But American historians must act fast, for untapped sources have literally died out. So how startling that ...
  • J.S.
    The First World War has been mostly forgotten in America. With the Great Depression and a Second World War coming soon after maybe few *wanted* to remember. The monuments and plaques have faded into the landscape and few remember anymore the places and streets that were named to honor those who served. An online search of my own town turned up only Pershing Square in downtown L.A., a grimy and graffiti-covered monument near the 10 freeway, and "C...
  • Christopher
    It was a war that cost millions of lives and involved the great powers of the day: Germany, Russia, France, Britain, Japan, the United States, and many others. Terrible atrocities were committed during this time and the world would never be the same again. If you though those two sentences were about World War II, you would be wrong. World War I was a calamity unlike anything the world had seen before, but has since become forgotten in the wake o...
  • Amy
    What an excellent book! I can't top Zahir's review of The Last of the Doughboys--his review is quite eloquent, and in my opinion, accurate.I will say, however, that I thought I knew about WWI, but as it turns out, I didn't. When I think of this war, the images in my head are literally in black and white. It is so far removed from my existence, that I can only see it the way that I see images of it in books and on film. That was until I read this ...
  • Peter Mcloughlin
    No one alive right now can speak to a veteran of World War One in the U.S (or probably anywhere else) and have him or her tell you what it was like. The vets of WWI now have the same status as the heroes of Salamis, Cannae, Agincourt, Concorde and Lexington, Trafalgar, and Gettysburg their story can no longer be supplemented with eyewitness accounts. In the last decade a prescient writer sought out the last living survivors of the war to end all ...
  • Chris
    This is one of the best non-fiction books I've read in a long time. Rather than attempting to write a comprehensive saga of World War One, Mr. Rubin paints the picture of the war and its era through the stories and remembrances of several dozen veterans, all of whom at the time of interview were centenarians at least, and all of whom are since deceased. What emerges is a kind of tapestry of the 'Great War', told by those who were there. Mr. Rubin...
  • Caitlin
    This isn't a book that you could sit down and read in one sitting (it is almost 500 pages, not including appendices and all that) but it's one that I found I couldn't help but return to over and over again. Rubin found and interviewed several dozen of the remaining veterans of World War I about their experiences and what I loved is that he finds the full spectrum of those who experienced the war. He interviewed "doughboys" who had served on the f...
  • Maria
    Rubin started in 2003 to interview all surviving World War I veterans. Each of his subjects was over 100 years old, some several years past that. This book weaves their memories with history and Rubin's personal observations.Why I started this book: It's been on my shelf for a while, and after reading about the first month of World War I in The Guns of August, I wanted to read a history that covered the rest of the war.Why I finished it: This was...
  • Alex
    I fervently want to thank Mr. Rubin for delivering such a tremendous and personal collection of stories about The War. Currently, I'm an officer in the U.S Navy. I majored in American and European History during university. Honestly, amongst the hundreds of war histories and novels I read, The Last of the Doughboys was the most personal and 'real' I've ever come upon. Actually, although I'm only 24, my grandfather was a WW1 vet. He never shared m...
  • Michelle Ule
    What a delight this book was! The Last of the Doughboys is the story of author Richard Rubin's tracking down the remaining World War I veterans starting in 2003. He found many, with an average age of 107!I loved his voice, the tongue in cheek amazement at how many of these ancient soldiers remembered details for 80 or 90 years ago, while not remembering what they had for breakfast, or even who he was mid-way through the interview.He told poignant...
  • Megan Gensler
    I have a hard time at most bookstores. The war I want to read about just happens to be the war that most people don't write about. I get really excited when I find books on the First World War, and this book did not disappoint. Rubin is at times writing a history (of the Great War), a memoir (of his experiences interviewing the last living veterans of that war), a travel diary, and a series of compact biographies of his interviewees. All these ge...
  • Kate
    So very interesting, I felt myself pulled in several research directions at once. Rubin does an artful job of blending History of WWI and the personal stories of the vets he interviewed, making the American part of the Great War real even after 94 years. So: where to go next? Research the yeomanettes? Put in more Veterans History Project work? Reread WWI fiction? Or nonfiction? An amazing piece of work.