Gentlemen Volunteers: The Story of the American Ambulance Drivers in the Great War

Arlen J. Hansen, Author, L. Sunny Hansen, Author Arcade Publishing $27.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-55970-313-0
Prior to America's entry into WWII, a small group of idealists and adventurers from Ivy League colleges and New England prep schools chose to help France in her time of need. Driving Tin Lizzies (Ford Model T's) brought with them from the U.S., these ""gentlemen volunteers,"" barred from taking up arms, transported wounded soldiers to distant urban hospitals. In doing so, they altered the practice of medicine in modern warfare. They also would alter American fiction, since among them numbered future literary luminaries such as John Dos Passos, Malcolm Cowley, e.e. cummings and Hemingway. Through his straightforward exploration of the volunteer corps, Hansen (Expatriate Paris, 1990), who died in 1993, sheds new light on U.S. isolationism. The volunteers, he demonstrates, cursed Woodrow Wilson's antiwar rhetoric and struggled to raise funds from an American citizenry that felt no connection to the conflict. The text comes most alive when the author lets his subjects speak for themselves, and at times his focus seems too wide--he devotes an entire chapter, for instance, to the volunteers' activities en repos (""on rest""). Still, those willing to pick through this offering will find illuminating insights into the American role in the Great War, as well as stirring examples of, as volunteer Hemingway put it, ""grace under pressure."" (May)
Reviewed on: 04/08/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 254 pages - 978-1-61145-099-6
Open Ebook - 453 pages - 978-1-62872-149-2
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