Born on a Mississippi farm, Pvt. Eugene McLaurin had reached 30 years of age when his unit began its advance on the Western Front. McLaurin's diary, written during nine weeks before the Armistice, records the horrors he encountered during his assignment to burial detail, of bodies torn apart, and burial rituals interrupted by gunfire or the occasional stealth attack by a German fighter plane, its engines muffled before emitting its deadly machine gun fire.
In spite of his modest rank, McLaurin was a Presbyterian minister qualified to be a commissioned officer. Instead, he was assistant to the battalion chaplain whose admiration for his assistant's courageous service under fire would result in his attempts to secure a commission for his aide, including appealing to the US Congress.
The Crossed Hands of God consists of a biography of McLaurin, his diary, letters to his fiancee from his induction through six months of occupation duty in Germany, and the tracing of his career from gentle parish minister to professor of systematic theology, eventually becoming an eminent linguist in biblical languages.