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On the Battlefield of Memory, On the Battlefield of Memory, 0817317058, 0-8173-1705-8, 978-0-8173-1705-8, 9780817317058, , , On the Battlefield of Memory, 0817383492, 0-8173-8349-2, 978-0-8173-8349-7, 9780817383497, , , On the Battlefield of Memory, 0817357238, 0-8173-5723-8, 978-0-8173-5723-8, 9780817357238,

On the Battlefield of Memory
The First World War and American Remembrance, 1919–1941
Steven Trout

E Book
2010. 344 pp.
24 Illustrations
978-0-8173-8349-7
Price:  $34.95 d
Quality Paper
2012. 340 pp.
24
978-0-8173-5723-8
Price:  $34.95 s

This work is a detailed study of how Americans in the 1920s and 1930s interpreted and remembered the First World War. Steven Trout asserts that from the beginning American memory of the war was fractured and unsettled, more a matter of competing sets of collective memories—each set with its own spokespeople— than a unified body of myth. The members of the American Legion remembered the war as a time of assimilation and national harmony. However, African Americans and radicalized whites recalled a very different war. And so did many of the nation’s writers, filmmakers, and painters.

Trout studies a wide range of cultural products for their implications concerning the legacy of the war: John Dos Passos’s novels Three Soldiers and 1919, Willa Cather’s One of Ours, William March’s Company K, and Laurence Stallings’s Plumes; paintings by Harvey Dunn, Horace Pippin, and John Steuart Curry; portrayals of the war in The American Legion Weekly and The American Legion Monthly; war memorials and public monuments like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; and commemorative products such as the twelve-inch tall Spirit of the American Doughboy statue.

 

Trout argues that American memory of World War I was not only confused and contradictory during the ‘20s and ‘30s, but confused and contradictory in ways that accommodated affirmative interpretations of modern warfare and military service. Somewhat in the face of conventional wisdom, Trout shows that World War I did not destroy the glamour of war for all, or even most, Americans and enhanced it for many.


Steven Trout is a Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at Fort Hays State University in Kansas. He is author/editor of several books, including Memorial Fictions: Willa Cather and the First World War and American Prose Writers of World War I: A Documentary Volume.

"According to Trout (English, Fort Hays State Univ.), WW I, 'the forgotten war,' occupied a disordered position in US national memory in the decades after the war ended. Public remembrance ranged broadly: one interpretation was that the US had intervened nobly and heroically in a foreign war, performing splendidly and proving itself as a world power; another was that the experience was sordid, hellish, demoralizing, and tragic. The author argues that variations on these themes were as numerous as the 'constituencies'--an assessment he bases on meticulous analysis of art, literature, periodicals, and war memorials. For example, individual works of commemoration--such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and E. M. Viquesney's sculpture Spirit of the American Doughboy--often portray more than one point of view, placing heroism in close juxtaposition with brutality. The deaths and burial sagas of Private First Class William L. Davis of Kansas and Quentin Roosevelt, son of Theodore Roosevelt, demonstrate the perplexing responsibilities of the nation to the thousands who had fallen in combat. Trout concludes that the 'forgotten' war is part of the mythology of a narrative that was never able to achieve consistency. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers."
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"The strength of [On the Battlefield of Memory] is in its archaeological instincts, its notion that there are layers of memory below the ones we thought we knew about it. It is the business of scholarship to unearth them all if possible. Trout joins Fussell and Hynes in showing historians how that can be done. Not bad company. . . . [Trout] shows movingly and with great care how the history of emotion is embedded in the history of war and points the way to future scholarship with authority and conviction."--American Historical Review


“This impressive book will change forever the way we think about World War I and its place in American memory.  It shows how deeply contested and controversial American understandings about this war have been since its conclusion.  It should be required reading for anyone interested in the role of this critical event in American history.” --Michael S. Neiberg, author of Fighting the Great War: A Global History and The Second Battle of the Marne

“Steven Trout’s insightful book on the way Americans remembered World War I . . . offers a convincing argument that Americans never reached a consensus over the meaning of the war before 1941. Along the way, he also helps draw attention to a conflict whose aftermath has never received the scholarly attention it deserves. . . . His book is one of the very best now available on the American remembrance of the Great War.”—Journal of American History

“A superb book that should be on the bookshelf of anyone seeking to understand the complex  political, military, and cultural legacy of  World War I on American society. Trout’s work ably demonstrates the malleability of memory even when cast in stone or set in print. On the Battlefield of Memory is especially attentive to understanding the mix of nostalgia, comradeship and political activism that marked the American Legion during the interwar years. World War I divided American society and Trout is especially careful to delineate the stark divisions in how black and white Americans remembered World War I.” --G. Kurt Piehler, author of Remembering War the American Way
 

"As the centennial of the First World War approaches, Steven Trout provides an invaluable and timely reassessment of that conflict's place in America's national memory. His arguments are judicious, compelling, and elegantly presented.” --Edward G. Lengel, author of To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918