Book Review: Somewhere Over There: The Letters, Diaries, and Artwork of a World War I Corporal


by Francis H. Webster, edited by Darrek D. Orwig

Normal: University of Oklahoma Press, 2019. Pp. xvi, 280. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $21.95 paper.. ISBN: 0806164514

A Doughboy at the Front

Shortly after the United States entered the Great War, school administrator and sometime journalist Francis H. Webster (1896-1918) joined the Iowa National Guard.

Webster was soon a machine gunner in the 168th Infantry of the 42nd “Rainbow” Division, one of the first American divisions to reach France, and also one of the four American divisions that were the most heavily engaged. He fought in the Champagne-Marne, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne Campaigns. Webster was killed in action on October 13, 1918, less than a month before the Armistice.

Webster was a gifted cartoonist, prolific letter writer, faithful diarist, and unofficial war correspondent. Much of what he wrote survives, and Darrek D. Orwig, who directs a an historically-oriented non-profit, has done a fine job of selecting, and annotating some of it.

Very readable and often amusing, these materials – particularly the cartoons – give us a look at American life in the period, and a soldier’s-eye-view of what the war was like. Somewhere Over There is a worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in the American soldier.



Note: Somewhere Over There is also available in hardback and e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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