"Historical Scholarship At Its Best. A Rigorous Testimonial And Dramatic." Kirkus Reviews

A True Story Of An American Family's Journey On The Brink Of WWI

Trace The Adventure

Learn More

How Wells Narrowly Escaped Being Charged As A Spy While Leaving Lake Garda Patrolled By German Soldiers

Witness The Greatest Train Wreck In History...

In the summer of 1914, Thomas Tileston Wells, a New York lawyer, traveled through Europe with his wife and two children. But what began as an idyllic summer vacation descended into a nightmare as Europe’s armies began mobilizing for the devastating First World War.

Thomas Tileston Wells

Relive The Adventure

Wells’ memoir, published in full for the first time, immerses the reader in the bygone era of luxury cruise ships and first-class dining cars—and then bears witness to the shattering beginning of the “war to end all wars.” Wells’s memoir uncorks a century-old message in a bottle, with reports of assassination, financial crisis, and war that are startlingly familiar. 

Andrew Roberts

Historian/Author 'Napoleon: A Life'

“A charming memoir of an American family holiday in Europe just as WWI breaks out. Beautifully edited & illustrated.”


Andrew Roberts, Napoleon Life Author

Midwest Book Review

Established in 1976

“An Adventure in 1914 is a true-life memoir as riveting as an Ernest Hemingway novel.”

About The Book

Edited and with an introduction and photography by Christopher Kelly, coauthor of America Invades, Italy Invades, America Invaded, and great-grandson of Thomas Tileston Wells.


“It is by far my most personal book.”

Author Chris Kelly
In 2022 Chris Kelly was inducted into Marquis Who's Who in America.

The Journey

“The following night we had a dense fog and heard the fog horn of another vessel. The engine of our ship (the SS Canopic) was then stopped and many of the passengers were greatly alarmed, thinking that the other vessel might be a German cruiser….”

White Star Line Boat


The world can change fundamentally in a single day. It has done so many times. The world changed on September 11, 2001; it changed on December 7, 1941. Earlier in the twentieth century, the world was shaken to its foundations on June 28, 1914, with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo. Of course, it took longer than one day for World War I to erupt—it took a summer. My great-grandfather, Thomas Tileston Wells, was an eyewitness to that refulgent and transformative summer. An Adventure in 1914 is his testament.


At the Lido Palace Hotel

“On the way to Lake Garda we constantly passed trains full of soldiers and trains with cannons and other military supplies…

I was stopped by a man in a brown and rather dirty civilian suit who told me that the two other Russian spies had been caught and that all three of us would be shot that afternoon.”

Enjoy More Books By Christopher Kelly

"History, But Entertaining"

Gerard Richardson

In his own words – listen to our interview with the author on uncovering this never before published manuscript of his family’s history.

Chris Kelly's Interview With Michelle Mendoza