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Book Review: A Rifleman Went to War by Herbert W. McBride

Herbert McBride was a American who grew up learning to shoot from Civil War veterans and some of the big names of the American West, like Bat Masterson. He had a taste for adventure, and spent time scouting for railroads and searching for gold in Alaska. He had tried to ship out to South Africa to join the British forces in the Boer War, but was disappointed to find that only British subjects could do so. When World War I broke out, he was determined not to miss another opportunity to get into a scrap, as he would say.

McBride resigned his Captain’s commission in the Indian Legion (National Guard), and joined the Canadian army as a buck private. He was assigned to a machine gun crew, and shipped over to France, where he spent most of the war in hard combat – and thoroughly enjoyed it.

After returning, he wrote (at the behest of friends and acquaintances) A Rifleman Went to War, which remains to this day one of the best descriptive and practical accounts of combat from the front-line infantryman. McBride was an expert marksman, and did his share of sniping as well as machine gun fighting, trench raiding with bayonet and hand grenade, and scouting. The book is a discussion of mindset and tools in war, and is an excellent read for anyone interested in an unapologetic and enthusiastic discussion of firsthand warfare.

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