An incredibly well written journal of the author's walk along WWI's Western Front. O'Shea doesn't pretend to be a historian, and makes no bones about being a pacifist who distrusts the military. He stumbles upon his interest in the Great War, when a friend takes him to the former front, and the author is shocked to see the land still shows the ravages of the war, 70 years earlier.
He is an avowed Baby Boomer, whose mindset must have been shaped by living in a peaceful time and when it was normal to look at authority in a negative light. However, even with his pacifist views, his conclusions about WWI are right on the mark. To those who know anything about the history of WWI, like it or not, O'Shea places the blame on the old world generals who allowed their men to be slaughtered and never changed their strategy. Some have read the book and come away feeling that O'Shea holds the men who fought it in contempt. I found completely the opposite, as he mentions several times how few war memorials commemorate the real heroes of the War, the men in the trenches. But because he feels that their lives were wasted in a meaningless conflict, it is natural to come away with the feeling that he is painting all in uniform with the same brush.
His anti-military, pacifist views DO get a little heavy at times, but in all, I found this book to be: poetic in nature; always interesting; and an excellent companion to all who are interested in WWI history as well as those who simply enjoy literate discourse.
Seeing how other readers have found his pacifism impossible to deal with, I noted several times in the book how he almost purposely avoids mentioning WWII. There are several spots when he mentions areas prominent in both wars, namely the Argonne forest. References to WWII are not made, although you'd think they were there for the making. His only fleeting remarks refer to his dismay upon noting Jewish-German graves, saying that these men died in service to a country that would work to exterminate their ancestors only 20 years later.
It might be that O'Shea believes WWII to be a more justified war. While there were still debacles, the Allies certainly showed more concern for their men than they did in WWI. But who knows; maybe O'Shea will surprise me a come out with a diatribe against WWII as well.