World War I was not "The War to End all Wars," as was hoped, but the nickname gives a slight sense of the scale and impact of the conflict. Thirty-two countries were involved, and an estimated 40 million military and civilian lives were lost.
As The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was growing into a global religion, its members were asked to serve their countries on both sides of the war. "Saints at War: World War I" shares their experiences.
The book, published in conjunction with the hundredth anniversary of the armistice ending World War I, is split into two sections. First, the historical events of World War I and what was happening in the church at the time are recounted to inform the reader and provide perspective and appreciation for the second part of the book — personal accounts of 37 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who served.
The soldiers' individual stories are told through personal accounts, including through letters, journals or from information provided by close family members.
While most members of the church were Americans, accounts from a Canadian and a German soldier are also included. "Saints at War" is a sobering reminder of the cost of freedom and the horror of war.Comment on this story
Robert C. Freeman is the associate chair in the church history and doctrine department at Brigham Young University. He is the director and co-founder of the Saints at War project and has contributed to seven other books on the topic of members of the church in the military.
Andrew C. Skinner was a dean of religious education at Brigham Young University and currently serves as the executive director of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. His father, Charles Skinner, is a World War I veteran.
"Saints at War" contains fairly detailed descriptions of war violence, one reference to venereal disease, and a couple edited profanities.
For more on Latter-day Saints who have served in various wars, see saintsatwar.com.