BEHIND THE LINES (BTL) is a 30-minute monthly podcast that features readings (by famous actors and other prominent people) of the greatest war letters ever written.
Behind the Lines: The Greatest War Letters Ever Written and The Stories Behind Them
Hosted by Barbara Harrison with co-host Andrew Carroll
Produced by Barbara Harrison, Celia Straus and Richard Craig
Directed by Richard Craig
The BTL podcast is hosted by Emmy-winning journalist Barbara Harrison who will journey through centuries of fascinating letters with New York Times bestselling author Andrew Carroll, who has made tracking down and tracing the history of our nation’s war letters his life’s work. Twenty years ago, Andrew Carroll launched a national, nonprofit initiative with a mission “to seek out and preserve America’s war letters.” Since that time, Americans have shared nearly 150,000 correspondences with Andy from every conflict in U.S. history, including handwritten missives penned during the Revolution up to emails from Iraq and Afghanistan. The project is ongoing, so new correspondences continue to come in.
Andy will share intriguing information about the letters featured in each podcast, putting them into context – e.g., which wars they’re from, who the letter writers are and what happened after the letters were posted. Thanks to the generosity of Simon & Schuster’s donation of 12 hours of audible recordings from two of Andy’s books, listeners will hear the letters (sometimes heart-breaking and sometimes truly hilarious) voiced by A-list actors and other famous individuals including Tom Brokaw, Rob Lowe, Joan Allen, Julianna Margulies, Oliver Platt, Martha Plimpton, Stanley Tucci, Hank Williams Jr., B.D. Wong, Noah Wyle, David Straitharn, Adam West, Rryan Cranston, Giovanni Ribisi and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
1. Introduction to War Letters Podcast: Reading of Variety of Letters
2. Love Letters
3. Humorous Letters
4. Letters describing Combat
5. V-E Day
6. Parents & Children/Homefront
8. Eyewitnesses to History including Bombing of Pearl Harbor, D Day, 9/11
9. V-J Day
10. The Hardest Letters to Write (Last Letters)
11. Letters of Reconciliation (To and From the Enemy)
12. Grace Under Fire (Faith/Holidays)
BEHIND THE LINES (BTL) will be accessible on all the major podcast directories, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. The podcast will also be accessible on the BTL website, which will also feature photos of the actual letters from the podcast, and a portal to collect and preserve additional war letters from the public. Most significantly, BTL will be broadcast on the American Forces Radio Network throughout the world.
BTL presents a rare opportunity to listen to a program that viscerally captures the hearts, minds and souls of our military service members and their loved ones from the Revolutionary War through today. And, with nearly 150,000 letters in our possession, we anticipate the program will run for years to come. Put simply, there’s never been anything like this and there never will be.
The first episode of BTL features correspondences from Kurt Vonnegut, George S. Patton (General Patton’s son) and Clara Barton.
Harrison is an award-winning journalist with more than three decades of writing, producing, reporting, and anchoring experience at major television stations across the country. She has garnered hundreds of local and National Awards. Among her many Emmy Awards, she holds The National Association of Television Arts and Science’s most honored prize, The Board of Governor’s Award for outstanding journalism and community service. Born in Texas, Harrison’s career as a writer-producer began at WNET-TV in New York. After stints in San Francisco as the host of popular radio shows on ABC-owned stations KSFX and KGO-Radio and in Dallas as a reporter/anchor for KDFW-TV in Dallas, she joined the staff at WRC/NBC4 in Washington and became one of the station’s most popular and award-winning anchors. The Washington Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honored Harrison with the Ted Yates Award for outstanding community service. She is the recipient of the prestigious Tufty Award for outstanding journalism. She was also honored for Outstanding Achievement by the New York Film Festival. Newsweek wrote about her distinguished career when she retired from WRC/NBC4. In 2019, she founded Barbara Harrison Media, Inc.
Carroll is an author, historian, playwright and the editor of several New York Times bestsellers, including War Letters and Behind the Lines. His most recent book is the critically acclaimed My Fellow Soldiers: General John Pershing and the Americans Who Helped Win the Great War. Andrew also edited, on a pro bono basis, Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families, and the book inspired the Emmy award-winning documentary Operation Homecoming. Carroll is also the founding director of the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University. The Center’s mission is to honor and remember veterans, active-duty troops and their families by preserving their war-related correspondences. Carroll also wrote a play based on these letters called “If All the Sky Were Paper,” which has starred Oscar-winning and nominated actors including Annette Bening, Laura Dern, Gary Cole, Ed Asner, Common, Jason Hall and Mary Steenburgen.
Straus is an author, screen and live event writer, and a founding partner of Barbara Harrison Media. She was the creator and writer for the National Memorial Day Concert on the Mall produced by Capital Concerts, broadcast annually on PBS from 2012-2017. She wrote the Anti Defamation League's annual Concert Against Hate performed at the Kennedy Center in 2016 and 2017. Her book, Hidden Battles on Unseen Fronts: Stories of American Soldiers with PTSD, TBI, Casemate 2008, was a first look at the mental health of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, she authored her father's memoir, Pathfinder Pioneer, the Memoir of a Lead Bomber Pilot in WWII, an Amazon WWII bestseller. Straus has been a designer, writer and producer on hundreds of video series as well as an award-winning educational series for PBS. She authored three poetry books: The New York Times best seller, Prayers on My Pillow, More Prayers On My Pillow, and The Mother Daughter Circle. These books inspired a CD, “I’m More Than What I Seem,” voiced by actresses Judy Ivey, Annette Bening, Blythe Danner, Kathleen Turner, Christina Baranski and Amy Irving. She is a member of the Writers Guild of America East.
Craig is a writer, producer, director and founder of Craig Interactive, an award-winning communications company that creates and produces compelling stories across all media. Craig wrote, produced and directed The Helical Heart, a documentary film about renowned cardiologist and researcher Francisco Torrent Guasp, which won multiple awards including Best Film at the International Health and Medicine Awards. Craig was also a writer and producer for Discovery Channel’s Wings Over Europe CD Rom, one of the first programs of its kind in the new field of interactive edutainment. Craig was the producer and director for Deaf Studies Digital Journal, the first academic journal published in American Sign Language. In addition, Craig has produced multiple interactive exhibitions for museums and libraries, as well as hundreds of television commercials and long form videos for organizations such as the National Archives, the National Library of Medicine and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Barbara Harrison and Andrew Carroll will be appearing on national and local (Washington, DC) television and radio shows to share war letters and promote BEHIND THE LINES. These appearances will be timed with the launch of the podcast and special remembrance days and holidays that honor veterans.
Andrew Carroll’s war letters project has received enormous national and local publicity since it began in 1998, including this ABC News story that captures the spirit and covers the most important aspects of the project. The project continues to generate positive coverage. For example, the Smithsonian magazine has a story about the project.
The fact that the BTL podcast is part of a larger initiative to honor and remember U.S. troops, veterans and their families, will make it, in itself, newsworthy. In addition, the BTL team will be active on Facebook and Twitter which will become popular forums for veterans and their families, historians and the listening public.
“Andrew Carroll has given America a priceless treasure. These letters are intimate, deeply personal portraits of the courage, sacrifice, and sense of duty that made this country. They remind us that greatness borne on the shoulders of the ordinary men and women who love their country and each other.”
— Tom Brokaw, current NBC News commentator, former anchor of the NBC Nightly News, and author of the New York Times bestseller The Greatest Generation
“These war letters are more deeply moving, more revelatory, and more powerful than any dispatch from the front. It’s the truly felt history of what war is all about.”
— Studs Terkel, historian and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Good War
“Andrew Carroll has assembled a collection of previously unpublished letters that run the gamut of wartime emotion. An excellent compilation that I enjoyed reading very much—and believe you will, too.”
— John Glenn, senator, World War II and Korean War fighter pilot, and astronaut (Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth)
“In the sweep of history, the experience of the lone soldier is often lost, but in this breathtaking collection the individual voices of the men and women who have served this nation come to life with a power and an eloquence that is both gripping and unforgettable. I can think of no better way to understand the horrors of war than to read the words of those who have been caught in its grasp, and these extraordinary letters offer some of the most dramatic eyewitness accounts of war imaginable. Quite simply, this is one of the greatest, most riveting books of war letters I have ever read.”
— Stephen E. Ambrose, bestselling military historian and founder of the National World War II Museum
“Behind the Lines is an extraordinary achievement, a compendium of voices at once immediate and timeless, heart-breaking and entertaining. Andrew Carroll bears witness to cataclysm by allowing participants to speak for themselves, achieving an evocative power rare even in the best war literature.”
— Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943
“In all my years of military service, I don't believe I have ever read a book that has moved me as profoundly as this one. While it is often the generals and military leaders who receive the limelight, Andrew Carroll's Behind the Lines reminds us that it is the individual troops in the field and their loved ones at home who most deserve our admiration and attention. Behind the Lines is a candid look at the fierce realities of warfare, but it is also a lasting tribute to those who have fought—and continue to fight—for freedom. I cannot recommend this book more highly.”
— Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, US Army, the (then) highest ranking woman in the history of the American armed forces
“There are two vastly different ways of studying war. One has to do with the great story of history and of nations, the other with dying alone in a field hospital; with missing someone so much it aches; with wrestling down fear and shoring up courage; or enduring war’s squalor and absurdity. Andrew Carroll studies the human side of war in this stirring, moving, and sometimes hilarious collection. Behind the Lines is a tribute to the human spirit.”
— Mark Bowden, author of the New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down
“This book is more than a collection of newly-discovered war letters. There is something deeper, richer, and more intense at work here. Each letter is extraordinary in its own right, but together they illuminate war as it is rarely seen. Most importantly, Behind the Lines is the result of Andrew Carroll's unprecedented trip around the world to seek out these gripping, insightful, and, in so many cases, breathtaking letters. This is a book born of great passion. This is a book with tremendous heart and soul.”
— James Bradley, author of the New York Times bestsellers Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys
“From the American Revolution to Iraq, everything is here: the terror and exhilaration of bloody combat, love letters, funny letters, letters from civilians caught in the middle of war. Behind the Lines is worth savoring; you can dip into it at any page and find something fascinating.”
— Joseph L. Galloway, co-author of We Were Soldiers Once...and Young and Triumph Without Victory: The History of the Persian Gulf War
“This book is absolutely majestic. The letters may be about war, but taken together they are about far more than conflict. They provide an unblinking look at the best and worst that human beings can do to each other, and in so doing transcend themselves. They become the colors with which Andrew Carroll has created a kind of historical art.”
— McKay Jenkins, author of The Last Ridge: The Epic Story of America's First Mountain Soldiers and the Assault on Hitler's Europe
“There is nothing more powerful than words written when life as you know it hangs in the balance. From soldiers on the front lines writing to sweethearts and family, to resistance fighters and so many others in the midst of war and its aftermath, Behind The Lines has letters from every conflict since the Revolution representing just about every race and many different cultures. This book is phenomenal and a must read.”
— Yvonne Latty, author of We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans from World War II to the War in Iraq