Of the many WWII novels Ive read, this is one of the best possibly because it encompasses whats going on from multiple narrative points of view and covers the war from many angles. The novel intertwines the stories of at least eight major characters all of whom are dealing with the uncertainty and danger of the war but in different places and from different perspectives. Because the action continually shifts back and forth from one location to the other - the War in the Pacific, the fate of the Jews in Amsterdam, the tension mounting in Great Britain, the atrocities taking place at the concentration camps throughout Germany, the plan for the invasion of Europe, as well as what it was like for those back home who were working in factories and coping with shortages, rationing, etc. - the reader is often left in suspense, waiting to find out the fate of one set of characters, while engrossed in whats happening somewhere else. While Piercy has invented her fictional characters and the kinds of situations in which they find themselves, she clearly has done a great deal of research about the Second World War and so the novel is filled with historical details that provide the reader with information about the war itself. But like most historical novels, its the human element the suffering, the courage, the sorrow and heartbreak -- that makes this book so hard to put down. Its hard to imagine what it must have been like to live through the period from 1939 -1945. But GONE TO SOLDIERS makes it quite clear that were it not for the sacrifices and the pain thousands and thousands of people endured our lives today would be very different.
Strong females-a French resistance fighter, a pilot, an OSS agent, a Jewish child shipped to the US, a fiction writer turned journalist, Rosie the Riveter and somewhat more typical males-a cryptocanalyst, an artist turned spy, a merchant marine, a marine fighting through the Pacific-tell separate stories of WWII all recounting tales of death, life, love, pain, suffering, redemption.