By Richard L. Pifer
The Great War, The World War, The War to End All Wars, The War to Make the World Safe for Democracy. These are names given to what Western observers at the time considered the most cataclysmic event in human history: World War I.
The first “total war” of the twentieth century, World War I engaged virtually everyone on the home front. The war demonstrated America’s great capacity for sacrifice and generosity, but also for prejudice and injustice. “The Great War Comes to Wisconsin” captures the home front experience: debates over war policy, worry over loved ones in the trenches, countless sacrifices by Americans of all ages, and the impact of a wartime hysteria that drove dissent underground. Included here are the voices of everyday Americans, elected officials, and soldiers from Wisconsin’s famed 32nd Division, through extensively quoted letters and newspaper accounts.
Author Richard L. Pifer sheds new light on the meaning of patriotism and the ways in which war threatens the survival of freedoms we hold dear. Indeed, “The Great War Comes to Wisconsin” challenges us to consider questions about patriotism, loyalty, and dissent that are as relevant today as they were one hundred years ago.