During World War II, my father, Lawrence Cane, wrote more than
300 letters home to my mother while serving in the American Army.
In 1995 I discovered the entire collection which had remained
in a box in the attic for almost 50 years. Having already fought
as a member of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil
War on the side of the Spanish Republic against the Fascist forces
of General Francisco Franco, my father enlisted in the U. S.
Army as a committed anti-fascist and with extensive combat experience.
After graduating from Officer's Candidate School, he was assigned
as one of 4 white officers of an all black Engineer Dump Truck
Company in the then segregated American Army. Anxious to be assigned
to combat, he volunteered for the invasion of Europe and landed
with the first units of combat engineers in the assault wave
on Utah Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Shortly thereafter he was
transferred permanently to the combat engineers, eventually rising
to the rank of Captain and in the process winning the Silver
Star for gallantry in action and the French Croix de Guerre.
His letters home are filled with his politically sophisticated
observations and eyewitness accounts of some of the most dramatic
events in history: segregated military units in an Army that
was fighting against racism and oppression, the D-Day landings
in Normandy, the liberation of France and Belgium, the Battle
of the Bulge, the encounter with the Germans, the early stages
of the occupation of Germany, and the horrors of the discovery
of the concentration camps. His writings establish the clear
link between the Spanish Civil War and World War II. The letters
are also filled with his love for my mother, his loneliness at
their separation, and their hopes and dreams for the future.
I have collaborated with two accomplished historians, Prof.
Judy Barrett Litoff of Bryant University and Prof. David C.
Smith of the University of Maine, to provide detailed annotations
and historical background to the letters. Judy and David have
written an historical introduction and I have written a personal
reminiscence of my father.
Among the very positive endorsements the book has received
is that of Andrew Carroll, editor of the New York Times bestseller "WAR
LETTERS: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars. Mr
Carroll has written:
"In all my years of reading thousands upon thousands of war
letters, I have never come across a correspondence quite like
this. Offering stunning, eyewitness accounts of some of the most
dramatic events in history, as well as poignant expressions of
love and longing, Lawrence Cane's letters are as close to perfection
as they come. The editors have a created a powerful and beautiful
tribute not only to Cane, himself, but to everyone who served
in World War II."
David E. Cane