Book Review – Behind the Lines – Andrew Carroll

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Behind the Lines
Andrew Carroll
500 pages
Non-Fiction
Scribner (2005)

War. On the surface,its a cold unfeeling word or action. We watch it on the nightly news,read about it on the Internet or watch the past wars via movies or specials like the PBS series on World War II being shown now.

But war is far more then just images flashing by our eyes,its the ultimate personal experience. It showcases every emotion Man has….love,fear,hate,righteousness,cowardness,bravery,killer and victim.
Every day during a war,the best and worst are constantly on display. But while the average person remains untouched by war, so many others are not.

Andrew Carroll has wriiten one of the most searing war books ever in Behind the Lines. Carroll journeyed around the world collecting letters from soldiers to thier loved ones during times of war. Its a powerfully compelling read. But he doesn’t stop with just soldiers, he also collected letters from others who were caught in the middle of the fighting,from Baghdad to Dresden to Stalingrad.

Some letters are filled with rage at the terrible losses these people have seen,both as soldiers and as civilians. Others are to loved ones, letting them know they are safe only to learn later,thier loved one has been killed. The reader can’t help but be moved by the British parents during the Blitz who sent thier daughter to Canada to be safe from the German bombers. They wrote a welcome letter to her so when she got her new home,she would have a nice surprise. What the parent’s didn’t know was thier beloved daughter never made it,the ship she was on was sunk by a U-Boat and she (along with 300 others) was killed.

The letters between enemies seeking a middle ground for forgiveness is touching as well…and gives one hope that maybe one day our leaders will finally get it that war is the most human event.

Carroll’s book should be presented to every world leader with this in mind.

Review by Michael Sullivan