Tweets from the Trenches

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“Tweets from the Trenches: Little True Stories of Life & Death on the Western Front” by Jacqueline Carmichael 

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Tweets from the Trenches: Little True Stories of Life & Death on the Western Front tells over 100 little true stories from the Great War. It is being released during the 100th anniversary of the final hundred days of the First World War. 

Using original prose and small stories pulled from journals, letters and memoirs of Allied soldiers from Prince Edward Island to Yorkshire to South Carolina. Full of vintage images, it touches on everything from brave homing pigeons to post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Author Jacqueline Larson Carmichael had two grandfathers on the ground with the Canadian Expeditionary Force throughout WWI on the Western Front. Her curiosity about the experience of George “Black Jack” Vowel, an American-Canadian, and Charles W.C. Chapman, led to walking on the Western Front herself as part of a research project. 

The terse battlefield notes were the social media posts and tweets of their day – they just took a little longer, she said.  

“I was struck by the compelling simplicity of the words – things like, ‘Delivering rations to the front/dodging bullets & mortar fire both … Bullets ripped the dirt up all round me but none of them were marked Black Jack,’” Carmichael said. 

In 2016, on a travel writing research trip, she traveled to Belgium, France and Germany, walking portions of the Western Front where both her grandfathers fought in World War I.  

The long-time journalist, whose work has been seen in The Dallas Morning News, the Toronto Sun, Entrepreneur Magazine, found footnoted prose a great way to quickly tell little stories pulled from history. 

“I consider this a kind of flash documentary creative non-fiction,” Carmichael said, noting most of the pieces fit on a page or less. 

Carmichael puts the book’s pieces in chronological order for readers, and uses a timeline as chapter headings to help orient the stories year by year in the bigger picture of the history of war. Using poetry, prose, and deep fact-filled footnotes, as well as images of WWI-era photos, postcards, and documents, as well as her own photos from the Western Front and those of researchers and guides, she offers a multi-faceted volume rich with the realities of the Great War. 

“One of my favourite reads …  An inspirational, innovative work that will resonate with readers across all generations. The clever format makes for a brisk read, yet the poignant imagery compels you to double back to appreciate the complexity,” said Philip Wolf of the Vancouver Island Free Daily. 

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