The Long Way Home LP
An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War
By David Laskin
(HarperLuxe, Paperback, Large Print, 9780061946202, 622pp.)
Publication Date: March 2010
From the author of The Children's Blizzard comes an epic story of the sacrifice and service of an immigrant generation.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, one-third of the nation's population had been born overseas or had a parent who was an immigrant. At the peak of U.S. involvement in the war, nearly one in five American soldiers was foreign-born. Many of these immigrant soldiers—most of whom had been drafted—knew little of America outside of tight-knit ghettos and backbreaking labor. Yet World War I would change their lives and ultimately reshape the nation itself. Italians, Jews, Poles, Norwegians, Slovaks, Russians, and Irishmen entered the army as aliens and returned as Americans, often as heroes.
In The Long Way Home, award-winning writer David Laskin traces the lives of a dozen men, eleven of whom left their childhood homes in Europe, journeyed through Ellis Island, and started over in a strange land. After detailing the daily realities of immigrant life in the factories, farms, mines, and cities of a rapidly growing nation, Laskin tells the heartbreaking stories of how these men—both conscripts and volunteers—joined the army, were swept into the ordeal of boot camp, and endured the month of hell that ended the war at the Argonne, where they truly became Americans. Those who survived were profoundly altered—and their experiences would shape the lives of their families as well.
Epic, inspiring, and masterfully written, The Long Way Home is the unforgettable true story of the Great War, the world it remade, and the men who fought for a country not of their birth, but which held the hope and opportunity of a better way of life.
David Laskin is the author of The Children's Blizzard, winner of the Midwest Booksellers' Choice Award for nonfiction and the Washington State Book Award. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Smithsonian magazine. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
- Here in the U.S., the First World War is often called the “forgotten war,” overshadowed by the Civil War before it and the Second World War just a generation later. Discuss how The Long Way Home altered and informed your understanding of this chapter of American history. Compare the American experience in the Great War to that of Britain, France and Germany.
“David Laskin’s The Long Way Home is a brilliant blending of social analysis and personal narrative, which recovers the experience of a ‘lost generation’—the immigrant ‘greenhorns’ who became Americans through service on the battlefields of World War I.”
-Richard Slotkin, author of Gunfighter Nation
“Moving, revealing, and lovingly researched, this book is a must read, and a great read, for any of us whose forebears came from overseas-meaning just about all of us.”
-Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City
“A riveting remembrance of the Great War by a master writer. David Laskin, by homing in on the lives of a dozen immigrants to Ellis Island, is able to tell a grand American saga about the true cost of democracy. All around a deeply compelling narrative.”
-Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior
“Laskin’s tracing of young immigrants, figuratively and literally, from Ellis Island to the trenches of World War I France blends moving personal stories, sociology, culture and military history. The result is a marvelous evocation of what it means to become an American and the many paths to that end.”
-Joseph Persico, author of Eleven Month, Eleven Day, Eleventh Hour
“Riveting. . . . With the epic history of the Great War as his backdrop, Laskin has vividly brought these extraordinary, colorful men to life and created, overall, an absolute masterpiece.”
-Andrew Carroll, editor of War Letters and Behind the Lines