Monday, November 28, 2016

No Peace with the Dawn: A Novel take on WWI

By Michelle Ule 

No Peace with the DAwn  No Peace with the Dawn is an interesting and different take on a World War I novel.

 (Note: I have written an unpublished WWI novel).

Split between the homeland of Utah and the battlefields of France following the US involvement the last 18 months of the war No Peace with the Dawn examines how the war infringes on the lives of several characters.

Centering on a group of students at the Agricultural College in Logan, Utah, the book tells their stories and how their LDS faith played a role.

We have musicians who enlist in the band, agriculture workers who elect to stay home, Swiss immigrants continually suspected of being German, a suffragette who can fix and driver her own Model T, a Native American who is not considered a citizen in Utah and an earnest man who becomes a soldier.

The story got confusing with all these characters and improved once we settled down on three different groups: the Swiss woman Trudi struggling to prove her patriotism in Utah, the Native American Joseph who forges a friendship in France with a fellow scout from Utah, and the feisty Clara who travels to France with the YMCA where she ultimately drives an ambulance--all the while watching for her earnest soldier boyfriend Reed.

All three of these arenas are interesting and shed light on different war experiences which I appreciated.

Historical Detail

Authors E. B. Wheeler, an historian in Utah, and Colonel Jeffrey Bateman, who teaches military history at Utah State University, have done an excellent job of conveying the background of the war.

Bateman's description of the US Marine Corps' battle at Belleau Wood was masterful and had me on the edge of my seat.

Georges Scott's La Brigade Marine Americane Au...
Georges Scott's Marine Brigade Belleau Wood
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The authors touch on all the major stories linked to the US involvement during WWI from rationing, suspicion of anyone speaking German (I didn't realize teaching German was outlawed in Utah schools during the war).

They include the Spanish influenza that killed 20 million people, the seemingly needless deaths of soldiers before they ever traveled overseas and the prejudice against Mormon people and Native Americans.

 There were items in this story I didn't know after three years of studying and writing about WWI.

While I had family living in Utah during this time period, I had never heard the stories of how the LDS church bodies banded together to serve their soldiers.

I didn't realize some of the prejudice soldiers brought with them from other parts of the country when they trained in Utah.

There was much to like, particularly in the second half, about this book though the writing was uneven.

I'm not sure if it was the complexity of the story or the fact we followed the lives of too many characters, but No Peace with the Dawn would have benefited from narrowing its focus.

Nevertheless, the novel provides a new slant on a great war that has been covered from many different angles.

We're in the middle of the centenary observances of a war that bears reexamination.

World War I novels are an excellent means to learn the grim history from a personal point of view.


No Peace with the Dawn and WWI: an LDS point of view. Click to Tweet 

 A novel angle on WWI: No Peace with the Dawn. Click to Tweet 

 Michelle Ule is the bestselling author of five novella collections and an outlier Navy SEAL novel. Watch for her biography of Mrs.Oswald Chambers (Baker) in October 2017. You can read more about Oswald and Biddy Chambers, along with a variety of her WWI blog posts at 

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