June 27th, 1918.
My dear M. Bordeaux:
I count the American people fortunate in reading any book of yours; I count them fortunate in reading any biography of that great hero of the air, Guynemer; and thrice over I count them fortunate to have such a book written by you on such a subject.
You, sir, have for many years been writing books peculiarly fitted to instill into your countrymen the qualities which during the last forty-eight months have made France the wonder of the world. You have written with such power and charm, with such mastery of manner and of matter, that the lessons you taught have been learned unconsciously by your readers—and this is the only way in which most readers will learn lessons at all. The value of your teachings would be as great for my countrymen as for yours. You have held up as an ideal for men and for women, that high courage which shirks no danger, when the danger is the inevitable accompaniment of duty. You have preached the essential virtues, the duty to be both brave and tender, the duty of courage for the man and courage for the woman. You have inculcated stern horror of the baseness which finds expression in refusal to perform those essential duties without which not merely the usefulness, but the very existence, of any nation will come to an end.
Under such conditions it is eminently appropriate that you should write the biography of that soldier-son of France whose splendid daring has made him stand as arch typical of the soul of the French people through these terrible four years. In this great war France has suffered more and has achieved more than any other power. To her more than to any other power, the final victory will be due. Civilization has in the past, for immemorial centuries, owed an incalculable debt to France; but for no single feat or achievement of the past does civilization owe as much to France as for what her sons and daughters have done in the world war now being waged by the free peoples against the powers of the Pit.
Modern war makes terrible demands upon those who fight. To an infinitely greater degree than ever before the outcome depends upon long preparation in advance, and upon the skillful and unified use of the nation’s entire social and industrial no less than military power. The work of the general staff is infinitely more important than any work of the kind in times past. The actual machinery of both is so vast, delicate, and complicated that years are needed to complete it. At all points we see the immense need of thorough organization and of making ready far in advance of the day of trial. But this does not mean that there is any less need than before of those qualities of endurance and hardihood, of daring and resolution, which in their sum make up the stern and enduring valor which ever has been and ever will be the mark of mighty victorious armies.