Book Reviews

As a life-time participant in Memorial Day ceremonies at American Military Cemeteries in France, I’ve long heard the stories about Americans who fought and died in the service of their country and for the defense of France.  The story of the McCormick family – brothers John, Paul, and Frank, and their mother, Edith – is remarkable for its intimacy amongst themselves, the insightfulness in which they bring to life, the intricate details of their lives and the gruesome aspects of the “War to end all wars’.  This collection of letters and daily entries is a testimonial to the American spirit with which Edith not just perseveres and succeeds as a widow and single mother, but to the indomitable sense of duty, honor and courage shown by John and Paul as they nobly and faithfully served their country.  And, despite heartbreak and loss, we also gain a sense of the inimitable grace by which Edith left a perpetual legacy in a tiny corner of France, proving Tocqueville’s point of America as a charitable and just nation.  A must read for anyone who values the French/American relationship and for anyone else who loves the immigrant American family story.

James W. Gerard

President, American Overseas Memorial Day Association


I Hate to Write is a compelling chronicle of a courageous and adventurous woman, as told through her own diary and correspondence.  Written during the early 1900’s through the First World War, it is the story of one woman’s family life in New York City and her three sons, two of whom would fight in France.  Her letters and journal reveal a mother’s thoughts and experiences about the eventual war with all the daily stresses and emotions experienced when loved ones are fighting abroad.  To a deployed service member in a war zone, the only thing that rivals a hot meal, is a letter from home.  Her frequent letters are answered in kind, giving us a unique perspective of a soldier’s life in the field.  However, unlike today’s instantaneous communications, mail took weeks, with five weeks deemed “record time”.  We are completely absorbed in her concerns and agonizing emotions after major battles, awaiting word of her sons’ fate as she prays for their safe return.  A thoroughly gripping, true story that will hold you from start to finish.

Jack Flood CDR, USN (Ret.)


Edith McCormick’s Journal and letters tell the unforgettable story of a remarkable lady living in New York City at the turn of the century. Her astute comments on international events and the joys and sorrows of day-to-day living provide a glimpse of upper middle-class life of a woman who becomes a single mother on the eve of World War I.  Sadly, family losses to illness and disease were as commonplace then as our mass shootings are today. The most compelling part of her narrative occurs when her two beloved sons readily join the Army to go “Over There”.  Edith’s journal entries and correspondence with her sons painfully reminds us of the agony all parents suffer whose children choose to defend their country in this way. Paul White skillfully weaves in actual newspaper reports from France to provide context to the dialogue between a mother and her sons serving in harm’s way in France. That dialogue ends tragically just before the Armistice, November 11, 1918.

All in all, a timeless tale well told.

Jeffrey L. Pettit, Esq.