© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War

From the author of The Children's Blizzard comes an epic story of the sacrifice and service of an immigrant generation. By Up to Date

Kansas City, MO –


When America declared war on Germany in 1917, one third of the nation had been born overseas or was the child of an immigrant. When drafting began, one out of every five soldiers was foreign born.

Steve Kraske talks with author David Laskin about his new book The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War. The story follows twelve men made up of every major immigrant group of the last century- Italian, Jewish, Polish, Slovak, Russian, Irish and Scandinavian.

We discuss their childhoods in Europe, the trauma of crossing the Atlantic, the daily reality of immigrant life before the war, the torments of boot camp, and the Battle of the Argonne, where they became true Americans.

Finally, a look at how those who returned were severely altered - and how it changed the lives of their families and their new country.

Additional Information:

David Laskin is the author of The Children's Blizzard, a narrative of six families who endured the great Midwestern blizzard of 1888, which won the 2006 Midwest Booksellers' Choice Award for Nonfiction and the Washington State Book Award. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Smithsonian. He lives in Seattle.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.