The term “heartwarming” seems like it’s made to describe Greene’s story of the small town in Nebraska that staffed a volunteer canteen for troop trains passing through. Every troop train. Every day. All day. The residents of the town and surrounding communities provided food and appreciation to the troops on their way to battle.
Greene brings the war years to life, and makes you feel like you’re experiencing some of the best of America as a small town in the middle of the country does everything it can to honor soldiers and sailors from across America.
My biggest complaint with the book is that I wanted more details about the logistics of the feat – how did the town manage to provide so much for so long? The quantities of food and other gifts to the troops that they donated is mind-boggling to me, and I wonder how they did so much.
In search of “the best America there ever was,” bestselling author and award-winning journalist Bob Greene finds it in a small Nebraska town few people pass through today—a town where Greene discovers the echoes of the most touching love story imaginable: a love story between a country and its sons.
During World War II, American soldiers from every city and walk of life rolled through North Platte, Nebraska, on troop trains en route to their ultimate destinations in Europe and the Pacific. The tiny town, wanting to offer the servicemen warmth and support, transformed its modest railroad depot into the North Platte Canteen.
Every day of the year, every day of the war, the Canteen—staffed and funded entirely by local volunteers—was open from five a.m. until the last troop train of the day pulled away after midnight. Astonishingly, this remote plains community of only 12,000 people provided welcoming words, friendship, and baskets of food and treats to more than six million GIs by the time the war ended.
In this poignant and heartwarming eyewitness history, based on interviews with North Platte residents and the soldiers who once passed through, Bob Greene tells a classic, lost-in-the-mists-of-time American story of a grateful country honoring its brave and dedicated sons.
To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads, go to the series page.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!