BookReview: A Long Way Home
DavidLaskin’s 2010 novel TheLong Way Homeis a narrative account ofthe experience of twelve American soldiers during the World War I.According to Laskin, these soldiers were of different racesparticularly Europeans and had traveled to America to evade war inEurope. Ironically, they ended up in it but fighting for America,their adopted country. As a popular historian and a journalist, DavidLaskin hasperfectly showcased his skills and expertise by tracking these WorldWar I soldiers and interviewed them to obtain information for thedevelopment of this story. Consequently,the story is catchy and clearly, reveals the sacrifices these earlyimmigrants made for the Pride of America. Simply put, the Long WayHome covers the lives of twelve soldiers of war whose backgroundswere not American but diverse, yet brought to the same fate by theneed to win the war in building the American pride.Inthis work, Laskin argues that the America’s patchwork heritage isnot a weakness but a strength whose roots aredeeply integratedinto the history of immigrant’s deaths, starvation, and sufferingin the name of patriotism.
Theauthor wrote this book for the purpose of revealing the role theWorld War I played in the unification of Americans despite theircultural and nationality differences. In the story, soldierbackgrounds did not matter anymore for the war had “control overtheir future” and “all they know wasto survive” (Laskin 87). Asa result,they all united for the goal of winning the war. Evidently, soldiersadopted the new motto “my squad is my family” (Laskin 116). Inthis case, the war had united all the fighters towards winning forAmerica Laskin also reveals that these early immigrants that thegovernment involved in the war earned their stay in the country. Forthis reason, Laskin says that they entered into war as aliens andreturned home not only as heroes but also American citizens.Evidently,two achieved the Congressional Medal of Honor while others becamecitizens due to their experience in combat.
Theauthor’s main argument is that immigrants sacrificed and suffered alot fighting for the US. As Laskin follows the life of the twelvesoldiers, he reveals their courage, strength, and endurance. Also,the soldiers had challenged interaction for many did not know properEnglish. Despite the language barrier and other differences theyhad, they brought glory to the country. As a result, few wereawarded,but all weregrantedthe citizenship ("The Long Way Home | David Laskin" 2). Inthis case, they earned their citizenship. Probably. Laskin supportsthe for immigrant’s accommodation in America especially with thecurrent pressure to evict them back to their original countries.Here, Laskin argues that the immigrants arejustifiedas full citizens because of the sacrifices they have made for thecountry. In particular, the soldier’s bitter experience duringworld war transformed them into Americans citizens because they werepatriotic.
Thereare several strengths of the story. First, it is compelling in theway it reveals the extent these European-born soldiers adopted inAmerica struggled in the war. Due to their foreign accents, they weresubject to verbal and physical abuse. As the story unfolds, Laskinmaintains a convincing tone that perfectly brings out his intendedargument. Second, the conversational tone between characters in thenovel adds more human appealing through emotional changes. Forinstance, the staffer at Benin kept saying “This is not your faultyou know. It reallyisn’tand you will get through this” (Laskin 151). Consequently, thesoldiers came to terms with reasons they suffered and killed.Finally, as a journalist,Laskin captured the experience of the soldier without any aspect offictionor facts based on assumptions. However, the book has a weakness. Itdid not utilize the findings from other authors, or research studies.Therefore, possible he missed important details if the participantsleft some information out during the interview,or supporting letters were not available to Laskin.
Inmaking of this novel, Laskin focused on primary sources to obtainrealaccountsof participants’ experience as their journeyed from Europe toAmerica and in the war. Some of the informationused wereachieved through interviews with a couple of foreign soldiers whowere alive at the time of Laskin’s research ("The Long WayHome | David Laskin" 4). Other was from letters these soldiersexchanged with their families and diaries that he gathered. The useof primary resources in the developmentof story renders the story original as they provide information thatis reliable, accurate, reputable and trustworthy.
Thenovel is relevant for use as a history, academic text, literature andin military studies. Also,the themes, style and the nature of the sources used in thedevelopment of this book make it a good historical document thatcontributessignificantly to the preservation of the soldier`s experience ofwarand servesthe purpose of a quality academic text. More importantly, it can helpunderstand sacrifices immigrants has made for America in makingdecision about their accommodation in American.
Inconclusion, the book “The Long Way Home” is a perfectlydemonstrate the scope of immigrants’ patriotism. It emphasizes theimportance and sacrifices of alien citizens to the country byfocusing on the world war. Although one can argue that the World WarI is long gone, it is important to think about those immigrantsserving in modern wars in Afghanistan or Iraq, struggling infactories, in plantations, or other areas as important because theystruggle to achieve the American dream.
"TheLong Way Home | David Laskin."Davidlaskin.Com,2016, http://davidlaskin.com/the-long-way-home/#theguys.
Laskin,David. TheLong Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the GreatWar.New York: Harper Perennial, 2010. Print.