Hannay Discourses on America - Mr. Standfast

'Say Dick,' he said shyly, 'what do you truly think of our Americans? You've seen a lot of them, and I'd value your views.' His tone was that of a bashful author asking for an opinion on his first book.

'I'll tell you what I think. You're constructing a great middle class army, and that's the most formidable fighting machine on earth. This kind of war doesn't want the Berserker so much as the quiet fellow with a trained mind and a lot to fight for. The American ranks are filled with all sorts, from cow punchers to college boys, but mostly with decent lads that have good prospects in life before them and are fighting because they feel they're bound to, not because they like it. It was the same stock that pulled through in your Civil War. We have a middle class division, too - Scottish Territorials, mostly clerks and shopmen and engineers and farmer's sons. When I first struck them my only crab was that the officers weren't much better than the men. It's still true, but the men are super excellent, and consequently so are the officers. That division gets top marks in the Boche calender for sheer fighting devilment. . . . . And, please God, that's what your American Army's going to do. You can wash out the old idea of a regiment of scallawags commanded by dukes. That was right enough, maybe, in the days when you hurrooshed into battle waving a banner, but it don't do with high-explosives and a couple of million men on each side and a battle front of five hundred miles. The hero of this war is the plain man out of the middle classes, who wants to get back to his home and is going to use all the brains and grit he possesses to finish the job soon.'

- John Buchan

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