That’s War – My Review!!
If you have read either The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian or Book Two: The Amethyst, you know that the character of Beebop was in the Navy. In real life, I was in the Navy for 10 years and served aboard submarines as a nuclear reactor operator and an electronics technician. Additionally, my father was retired Air Force and my older brother served in the Army. With that background, when I had the opportunity to read and review That’s War by Lt. William Sirmon and reproduced by his great-grandson Brannon Sirmon, I jumped at the chance.
I found this book to be absolutely fascinating. Having spent some time floating around on a submarine, I could easily relate to the repetitive training and excruciating boredom that often accompanies military service. But even more compelling to me was the matter-of-fact and humble account of the horrors of war. Not a blood and guts narrative, That’s War is Lt. William Sirmon’s diary of that last year (January through November 1918) of the War to End All Wars. it chronicles the dreadful conditions that the doughboys faced and their perseverance and determination to defeat the Germans and restore peace to the world.
The narrative, at times, seems almost lighthearted and irreverent – especially while Lt. Sirmon’s brigade was training at Ft. Gordon, Georgia. He laments the need to get up so early in the morning, how cold it is, how miserable the weather is. Many of these are common complaints among soldiers, airmen, and sailors everywhere. Yet, throughout, there was an overwhelming optimism about America and America’s role in the world. Throughout was the hope they would get to war and strike a blow against Germany. This was never more evident than during the transit across the Atlantic Ocean when many of the soldiers were seasick. They did not bemoan their circumstances but instead vowed to make the Kaiser pay for their discomfort!
Not a celebration of war:
The book was not, however, a celebration of war. There were horrors enough in it, but Lt. Sirmon chose not to dwell on those. Written in the style of the times, there is little in the way of foul language and no graphic description of horrible injuries. The descriptions of the beautiful French countryside and the brave people displaced by the tragedy of the war are haunting.
Lt. Sirmon’s account gives a great historical perspective to the conditions on the front and the fears that all soldiers who have been in combat can relate to. I particularly appreciated the patriotic and heartfelt love of country that he showed – even at the worst of times.
I can’t say that the book was enjoyable in the way a war novel can be, but it opened my eyes to the harsh realities of war. Told in a gentle humble way, I recommend it for anyone who wants to get a taste of war or see WWI through the eyes of a front line participant. Give it a try, and remember to thank those who served for the freedoms you enjoy! Thank you Brannon Sirmon for bringing your great grandfather’s words and experiences to us!
My rating – 4.5 Stars!!!