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Fighting Different Wars


  • 13 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 352 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.528 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521035491)

The popular idea of the First World War is a story of disillusionment and pointless loss. This vision, however, dates from well after the Armistice. In this 2004 book Janet Watson separates out wartime from retrospective accounts and contrasts war as lived experience - for soldiers, women and non-combatants - with war as memory, comparing men's and women's responses and tracing the re-creation of the war experience in later writings. Using a wealth of published and unpublished wartime and retrospective texts, Watson contends that participants tended to construct their experience - lived and remembered - as either work or service. In fact, far from having a united front, many active participants were in fact 'fighting different wars', and this process only continued in the decades following peace. Fighting Different Wars is an interesting, richly textured and multi-layered book which will be compelling reading for all those interested in the First World War.

• Offers an interesting perspective on the war by separating out the wartime from the retrospective accounts • Watson offers an alternative to the disillusioned view of the war by putting it in broader context • Draws upon very substantive original wartime and retrospective texts - many previously unknown and unpublished


List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Introduction: experience, memory and the Great War; Part I. Experience and the War: 1. Soldiers and 'khaki girls': men and women in military and paramilitary organisations; 2. The healing of her men: amateur and professional hospital workers; 3. Other armies: auxiliary war workers; 4. A family at war: the Beales of Standen; Part II. Memory and the War: 5. The soldier's story: publishing and the postwar years; 6. Creating disillusionment in popular memory; 7. Still fighting: memory enters history; Conclusion: climbing out of the trenches; Select bibliography; Index.


'… this is a cogently argued, important book.' BBC History

'This is a useful and thought-provoking book. Undergraduates of history and literature should be encouraged to read it both for the light it sheds on the British experience of the First World War and for the way it illustrates the contrast between strictly contemporary evidence and primary sources molded by the retrospection of just a few years. Historians should welcome it for highlighting how perceptions of the war came to be dominated by stories of disillusionment and futility. Scholarship like this will, eventually, undermine the monolithic authority of those stories and the history of the war - multifaceted and complex - will reach a wider audience.' H-Net

'This is a thoughtful piece of research and a book well worth reading.' Open History

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