Herbert Corey’s Great War : A Memoir of World War I by the American Reporter Who Saw It All

In 1914, the Associated Newspapers sent correspondent Herbert Corey to Europe on the day Great Britain declared war on Germany. During the Great War that followed, Corey reported from France, Britain, and Germany, visiting the German lines on both the western and eastern fronts. He also reported from Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, and Serbia. When the Armistice was signed in November 1918, Corey defied the rules of the American Expeditionary Forces and crossed into Germany. He covered the Paris Peace Conference the following year. No other foreign correspondent matched the longevity of his reporting during World War I. Until recently, however, his unpublished memoir lay largely unnoticed among his papers in the Library of Congress. With publication of Herbert Corey’s Great War, coeditors Peter Finn and John Maxwell Hamilton reestablish Corey’s name in the annals of American war reporting. As a correspondent, he defies easy comparison. He approximates Ernie Pyle in his sympathetic interest in the American foot soldier, but he also told stories about troops on the other side and about noncombatants. He is especially illuminating on the obstacles reporters faced in conveying the story of the Great War to Americans. As his memoir makes clear, Corey didn’t believe he was in Europe to serve the Allies. He viewed himself as an outsider, one who was deeply ambivalent about the entry of the United States into the war. His idiosyncratic, opinionated, and very American voice makes for compelling reading.