What is unique about this book?
It’s perspective and style is by far what makes Over the Top unique.
This book was the first of its kind which featured stories of the common Soldier’s life behind the lines and concentrated on the details of combat in the trenches. This was also Empey’s first book and, by far, the most successful. An estimated one million copies were printed from May 1917 through November 1918. Appearing in print within a month after America’s entering the war, Over the Top acquainted American readers with the training and combat experienced by “Tommy Atkins,” the common British Soldier. This offered readers a glimpse of what members of our own American Expeditionary Force might experience in this new Modern War.
Over the Top is written in a humorous style by an artist who spent the rest of his life engaged in various forms of entertainment and self-promotion. It is an insider’s look at the “Tommies” of the British Army told in their slang by an American who served alongside them. Empey liberally spices up his text with the jargon of this industrial war and includes a thirty page “Tommy’s Glossary of the Trenches” at the end which should be read completely for an explanation and for a funny look at the life of the Soldier. Though the book offers great details, Empey considers his audience and entertains while he informs his readers—not every writer does, or can, do that.