This rare volume contains the graphic story of a young Michigan soldier's experiences during President Woodrow Wilson's ill-fated 1918 military expedition against the Bolsheviks in the frozen reaches of northern Russia -- a little-remembered event in U.S. history.
As a member of the U.S. "Polar Bears" medical corps, Godfrey Anderson (1895–1981) tells of his travels by ship and train to Archangel, Russia, where a 5,000-man American contingent joined forces with French, British, Canadian, and local Cossack fighters to hold back the Red Army. Anderson's unit set up field hospitals in the vast Arctic wilderness, endured the bitter cold of winter and the ravages of the Spanish flu, rubbed shoulders with Russian villagers, rescued scores of wounded from the advancing Bolsheviks in a harrowing nighttime retreat by sleigh -- and more.
Anderson's autobiographical narrative has an irresistible charm and transparency to it; a substantial introduction by Michigan historian Gordon Olson sets the geopolitical stage for this gripping and down-to-earth war memoir.Watch a preview of the PBS documentary of the Polar Bears, Voices of a Never Ending Dawn.
Read a review of the book by our own Rachel Bomberger on EerdWord
AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS
Michigan Notable Books, Notable Book (2011)
Frank N. Schubert
— Historian (ret.), Office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
"In this first-rate first-person account of a Michigan farm boy's adventure during World War I, expertly enriched and set in historical context by Gordon Olson, Godfrey Anderson gives a soldier's-eye view of battling the elements and the Bolsheviks in the Russian Arctic. He clearly and honestly tells about the Americans' first clash with the Red Army, an expedition that became a prelude to the Cold War."
Perry D. Jamieson
— Senior Historian (ret.), U.S. Air Force
"Godfrey Anderson, a Michigan farm boy who became a Polar Bear,' wrote a richly detailed and highly readable account of his World War I experiences in Russia. Thanks to Gordon Olson for making available a well-illustrated and thoughtfully edited version of this valuable primary source."
Michigan Historical Review
"Allows readers to understand the soldier's experiences. . . . Olson has woven Anderson's memories together to provide an account that allows readers not only to see the situations these men encountered but also to feel and sometimes almost smell the atmosphere."
Detroit Free Press
"Set against the harsh and frigid winter of Russia, this West Michigan soldier's memoir details his experiences as a member of the 337th Field Hospital United during the ill-fated Polar Bear Expedition."