Notes From The Trenches

A Musician's Journey Through World War I

Non-Fiction - Military
308 Pages
Reviewed on 04/21/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Randy B. Lichtman for Readers' Favorite

Notes From the Trenches: A Musician’s Journey Through World War I is a military memoir by Gary H. Foster, Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired). Through various narratives, photographs, and the spirited and entertaining letters from his grandfather, Leo Foster (signing his letters affectionately, “Kid”), the author presents U.S. military history, social history, personal challenges, and first-hand experiences of a bugler hero throughout Leo’s experiences during World War I. The author says, “This book is a tribute to the men like my grandfather who fought as Doughboys in the First World War,” but that is only a part of this book’s purpose. Notes From the Trenches is an 'every person’s' book. It is not just a war memoir for veterans and military history enthusiasts, but one that reminds us of the ability of people to rise above difficult circumstances regardless of the odds with a positive attitude—the power of resilience.

The author does an amazing job of bringing over 90 personal letters by Leo together with historical events as well as context to engage us in his grandfather's adventures. In the letters, his grandfather reports the everyday events he experienced with such a love for life that it bounces off the page. The descriptions include the rising cost of eggs, experiences in going to shows, travel throughout Europe, and his experiences there (including the food). The war, wounds, and the people who suffered around him were all presented in such an amazing light. It was interesting when he described having the flu for two weeks and was extremely weak—that was during the Spanish Flu epidemic, an epidemic we compare with our recent one 100 years later. Learning about the losses he experienced in the final years of his life was very emotional to me, especially the deaths in his family and his developing cancer. Notes From the Trenches truly shows Leo Foster to be an amazing person who rose above his challenges and losses with a remarkable attitude. The wonderful parades and the way that returning veterans were welcomed home were inspiring and well-deserved. The author knew Leo until his death when Gary was only 13. Leo Foster was a man that I wish I'd had the honor to meet in my lifetime. Highly recommended.

Gary Foster Author

Randy, thank you so much for the terrific review! All the best, Gary