"Patterned after Philip Beidler's The Good War's Greatest Hits (CH, Dec'98, 36-1954), this book mentions an astonishing number of works and authors but offers little in-depth commentary and analysis. Stout's thesis seems to be that a culture of grieving evolved in the 20th century due to unending wars, and that this pattern will continue, possibly unabated, throughout the 21st century. Niall Ferguson's outstanding The Pity of War (CH, Sep'99, 37-0466) is also a model for this discussion: Stout (emer., Texas A&M Univ.) mentions all the standard war poets but widens her scope to include such relatively unknown writers as Laurence Binyon, Margaret Postgate, Alice Meynell, Elizabeth Daryush, Teresa Hooley, and Mary Jo Salter. (Symptomatic is treatment of Salter's moving poem, "Welcome to Hiroshima," which receives but a single sentence.) However, the author includes art and music in her discussion, mentioning political cartoons, the works of Paul Nash and Otto Dix, and music by Elgar, Ives, Cole Porter, Copland, Schoenberg, and Britten (whose War Requiem receives enough sustained attention to make one wish that Stout had mentioned fewer works and offered more in-depth analysis). The volume's shortcomings aside, the book will be invaluable to students because Stout's treatment points in many directions. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-/upper-division undergraduate; graduate students; general readers."
“The most extraordinary feature of this study is its amazing scope. . . . Even for readers familiar with the terrain of 20th-century English war poetry, this book contains a treasure trove of new and interesting work. The same could be said for the exhaustive scholarship brought to bear on the discussion of the literature to excellent effect. . . . Some of its inclusions are very likely to spur new interest and new research. For example, the brief discussion of Sterling Brown’s poetry should make readers curious to learn more about the African American response to the First World War.”--Margot Norris, author of Writing War in the Twentieth Century
“It is hard for me, as a reader, to contain my praise. This study of the poetries of the great wars of the 20th century in their relation to what Stout calls the culture of mourning is comprehensive and masterful. It is immensely learned, yet readable. Most important, the book is intensely wise and humane, distilled from a career of reading and writing and meditating on the meanings of art forms and expressions.”--Philip Beidler, author of Late Thoughts on an Old War: The Legacy of Vietnam