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Book Nook: World War I and America - Told By the Americans Who Lived It, edited by A. Scott Berg


The last time A. Scott Berg appeared on this program he discussed his monumental biography of Woodrow Wilson. On April 2, 1917 President Woodrow Wilson officially reversed course when he gave a speech to a joint session of Congress in which he stated his reasons for asking that the United States should officially declare war on Germany and finally enter World War I. The Great War had begun in 1914 and during his first term Wilson had taken pride in keeping our country out of that conflict.

A. Scott Berg knows the period well. The Library of America made an excellent decision when they picked him to edit this extraordinary collection of material which has been issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of our nation's entry into World War I. In the nearly 1000 pages of this collection we can hear the voices of Americans expressing many different viewpoints and speaking from many varied perspectives.

The book is filled with the observations that were made by Americans before we entered the war. Some of them were opposed to our involvement in that conflict. Others, like former President Teddy Roosevelt were all gung ho and ready for America to plunge into the fight. There are dispatches from war correspondents, medical personnel, aviators, soldiers on the ground, and writers who are well known to us today, people like Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, and Edith Wharton.

This program closes with some additional content. The columnist Jimmy Breslin died recently. In honor of this creator of what became known as the New Journalism we took some excerpts from my 2011 interview with him and included it as a way of paying tribute to this prodigious writer. In the final segment Jimmy talked about his encounter with Branch Rickey, the man who signed Jackie Robinson to a baseball contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He talked about the strange and deadly summer when the man known as the Son of Sam killer almost murdered him. And I asked Jimmy how he would like to be remembered. You'll love his response.

The Book Nook on WYSO is made possible by five local library systems in southwest Ohio:  the Greene County Public LibraryWashington-Centerville Public LibraryClark County Public Library, Dayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.

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Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them.  Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.