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Commemorating the centennial of World War I with books

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914 and declarations of war from other nations followed, beginning the so-called "war to end all wars." The New York Public Library is currently commemorating the centennial of World War I with an exhibition entitled "Over Here: World War I and the Fight for the American Mind." Here are five World War I books detailing the American experience of the Great War.

Volunteers placed ceramic poppies by the Tower of London to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.
Volunteers placed ceramic poppies by the Tower of London to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images
A field of poppies in London commemorates the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

"A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway is based on Hemingway's own experience as an ambulance driver in World War I. The doomed love affair is a classic. Tame by today's standards, the film version of the book with Helen Hayes and Gary Cooper was controversial in its time for the indecently long kiss between the stars.

"Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I" by John S. D. Eisenhower with Joanne Thompson Eisenhower is a history of the American involvement in the war. This detailed account of the American Expeditionary Force features maps and a solid bibliography.

"DK Eyewitness: World War I" by Simon Adams is a history of the war for young readers ages 8-12. Updated for the centennial, the book features photographs and easy to read text detailing the battles and trench life in an age-appropriate manner. A concise 72 pages, this book is a great resource for youngsters.

"July Crisis: The World's Descent into War, Summer 1914" by Thomas Otte looks at the diplomatic history of the outbreak of World War I. This thoughtful book examines the mistakes European rulers made in the weeks following the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand that led to war. The collapse of diplomacy is nothing new to us today, but the years leading up to the war had been so peaceful, war must have seemed unimaginable at the time.

"This Side of Paradise" by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a semi-autobiographical story focusing on a young Midwesterner and later Princeton student, his relationships and experience of World War I and then post-World War I. Youth and the changing morality of the times leading into the Roaring Twenties is a theme of this classic. Fitzgerald's relationship with his soon-to-be-wife Zelda provided much of the material for the book.

These books are all available online, in your favorite bookstore and at your local library.