"Not since Flags of Our Fathers—no, make that, Not since Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory—no, make that, Not ever—has an American nonfiction writer reached into history and produced a testament of young men in terrible battle with the stateliness, the mastery of cadence, the truthfulness and the muted heartbreak of James Carl Nelson in The Remains of Company D. I wish I'd had the honor of working on this book with him. But then, he didn't need me."---Ron Powers, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Flags of Our Fathers and author of Mark Twain: A Life
"A beautifully crafted anthem to doomed American youth, James Carl Nelson's The Remains of Company D is a must-read for World War I enthusiasts and those looking for a damn good war book."---Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of The Longest Winter and The Bedford Boys
"War is always hell, but the unprecedented carnage on World War I's Western Front was the stuff of nightmares. The American boys of Company D were on the front lines, and James Carl Nelson has combined previously unpublished first-person accounts, prodigious research, and vivid, you-are-there prose into one of the great books on the subject. This is a Band of Brothers for World War I."---James Donovan, author of A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn—the Last Great Battle of the American West
"James Carl Nelson's book is a great contribution to AEF history. He has done an incredible amount of research in order to convey the experience of one group of doughboys...and to tell their story through their own words.….He reminds us that these long-forgotten battles of ninety years ago were as hard fought as any before or since, and that our country was well served by the young men who fought them. Get this book. It puts a very human face on the experience of Americans on the Western Front."---Dr. Paul Herbert, executive director of the Cantigny First Division Foundation
Haunted by an ancestor's tale of near death on a distant battlefield, James Carl Nelson set out in pursuit of the scraps of memory of his grandfather's small infantry unit. Years of travel across the world led to the retrieval of unpublished personal papers, obscure memoirs, and communications from numerous Doughboys as well as original interviews of the descendents of his grandfather's comrades in arms. The result is a compelling tale of battle rooted in new primary sources, and one man's search for his grandfather's legacy in a horrifying maelstrom that is today poorly understood and nearly forgotten.
The Remains of Company D follows the members of Company D, 28th Infantry Regiment, United States First Division, from enlistment to combat to the effort to recover their remains, focusing on the three major battles at Cantigny, Soissons, and in the Meuse-Argonne and the effect these horrific battles had on the men.
This is an important and powerful tale of the different destinies, personalities, and motivations of the men in Company D and a timeless portrayal of men at war.
Nelson's grandfather fought in WWI. Wounded in 1917, he survived until 1993 but said little about his experience. Inheriting only his grandfather's dog tag, a Purple Heart and a few postcards, Nelson, a former staff writer for the Miami Herald, resolved to tell his story and that of his 250-man company. Using these scraps, old newspaper accounts, government archives, secondary sources and a good deal of imagination, Nelson delivers biographies of dozens of young men, poor and middle-class, swept into the American Expeditionary Force and shipped to France, where General Pershing, anxious to prove the superiority of American fighting men (and convinced that trench warfare was for sissies), flung them at German lines, where they performed magnificently but suffered terrible casualties. Despite a dearth of primary material (no diaries turned up), Nelson delivers a creditable performance, bringing to life an America of 90 years ago in which many eagerly answered their president's call, but others (Nelson's grandfather among them) went about their business until drafted and then dutifully joined the carnage. 16 pages of b&w photos.