John Dos Passos had just returned from studying architecture in Spain when America entered World War I and - driven by the idealism that infected many young Americans (including Hemingway and e.e. cummings) - he joined up as a driver for the Ambulance Corps. His rapid and profound disillusionment forms the core of Three Soldiers, a fierce denunciation of the military and of the far-reaching social implications of its exploitation of young men. The novel focuses on three main characters: Andrews, a young composer who finally revolts against the war's deadening regimentation; Chrisfield, an Indiana farm boy who chants the words "make the world safe for democracy" to himself in a futile attempt to block out the noises and terrors of battle; and Fuselli, a clerk who clings to the dream of becoming a corporal despite the mockery of his fellow soldiers. Required to renounce their individuality and to conform with unquestioning obedience, each one, in different ways, is ineradicably scarred by the dehumanizing effects of war.
"I regard Dos Passos as the greatest writer of our time." --Jean-Paul Sartre