A Memoir of World War I
Considered by many to be the finest American combat memoir of the First World War, Hervey Allen’s Toward the Flame vividly chronicles the experiences of the Twenty-eighth Division in the summer of 1918. Made up primarily of Pennsylvania National Guardsmen, the Twenty-eighth Division saw extensive action on the Western Front. The story begins with Lieutenant Allen and his men marching inland from the French coast and ends with their participation in the disastrous battle for the village of Fismette. Allen was a talented observer, and the men with whom he served emerge as well-rounded characters against the horrific backdrop of the war.
As a historical document, Toward the Flame is significant for its highly detailed account of the controversial military action at Fismette. At the same time, it easily stands as a work of literature. Clear-eyed and unsentimental, Allen employs the novelist’s powers of description to create a harrowing portrait of coalition war at its worst.
About the Author
Hervey Allen was the author of many volumes of poetry and prose, including the popular novel Anthony Adverse.
Steven Trout is an associate professor of English at Fort Hays State University. He is the author of Memorial Fictions: Willa Cather and the First World War and a co-editor of Literature of the Great War Reconsidered: Beyond Modern Memory.