Bodies of War: World War I and the Politics of Commemoration in America, 1919-1933

Overview

World War I marked the first war in which the United States government and military took full responsibility for the identification, burial, and memorialization of those killed in battle, and as a result, the process of burying and remembering the dead became intensely political. This saga and the efforts of the living to honor them is a neglected component of United States military history, and in this fascinating yet often macabre account, Lisa M. Budreau unpacks the politics and processes of the competing ...
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Overview

World War I marked the first war in which the United States government and military took full responsibility for the identification, burial, and memorialization of those killed in battle, and as a result, the process of burying and remembering the dead became intensely political. This saga and the efforts of the living to honor them is a neglected component of United States military history, and in this fascinating yet often macabre account, Lisa M. Budreau unpacks the politics and processes of the competing interest groups involved in the three core components of commemoration: repatriation, remembrance, and return. She also describes how relatives of the fallen made pilgrimages to French battlefields, attended largely by American Legionnaires and the Gold Star Mothers, a group formed by mothers of sons killed in World War I, which exists to this day. Throughout, and with sensitivity to issues of race and gender, Bodies of War emphasizes the inherent tensions in the politics of memorialization and explores how those interests often conflicted with the needs of veterans and relatives.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Bodies of War makes a strong and innovative contribution to the social and cultural history of America’s Great War. Budreau shows how Americans’ ambiguous understanding of the war interacted with their need to grieve and comprehend the loss of their sons in the nation’s first European war. Her powerful argument makes an important contribution to our knowledge not just of the war itself, but of the many ways that the war continued to impact America long after its conclusion.”

-Michael Neiberg,editor of The World War I Reader

“Budreau’s book is a monument to the power of civil society in framing American commemorative practices. She brings Gold Star Mothers back where they belong, into the center of the story of war and its aftermath. Through her study, we can still hear their voices, full of dignity and sadness. Here is a fine contribution to the history of American memory culture.”
-Jay Winter,author of Remembering War: The Great War between Memory and History in the Twentieth Century

“A remarkable story of the three R’s—repatriation, remembrance, and return—one of the most poignant to appear in recent years about American participation in World War I. It has its moments in the work of what later became the funeral industry. The far wider importance, here for the first time, concerns the nationalizing of grief.”
-Robert H. Ferrell,author of Woodrow Wilson and World War I, 1917-1921

"Budreau's account of the American way of remembrance uncovers a neglected chapter in the disputatious political history of the 1920s. Examining dozens of archival collections, both public and private, she has recovered the voices of mothers and other relatives of the dead. Bodies of War is a thoughtful, sometimes poignant contribution to our understanding of America's Great War experience."-Robert H. Zieger,Journal of American History

“Budreau offers an insightful perspective on how the US dealt with the aftermath of the Great War as officials sought to commemorate those who died in faraway places... For those with interests in the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, or military, ethnic, and gender history, this book is a must... Summing Up: Essential.”-Choice,

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814725184
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Pages: 335
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa M. Budreau is a consultant to the WWI Regional Office with the American Battle Monuments Commission, based in Arlington, VA, and Garches, France. She is editor of Answering the Call: The U.S. Army Nurse Corps, 1917-1919.

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