What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France

What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France

by Mary Louise Roberts
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Overview

What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France by Mary Louise Roberts

How do you convince men to charge across heavily mined beaches into deadly machine-gun fire? Do you appeal to their bonds with their fellow soldiers, their patriotism, their desire to end tyranny and mass murder? Certainly—but if you’re the US Army in 1944, you also try another tack: you dangle the lure of beautiful French women, waiting just on the other side of the wire, ready to reward their liberators in oh so many ways.
That’s not the picture of the Greatest Generation that we’ve been given, but it’s the one Mary Louise Roberts paints to devastating effect in What Soldiers Do. Drawing on an incredible range of sources, including news reports, propaganda and training materials, official planning documents, wartime diaries, and memoirs, Roberts tells the fascinating and troubling story of how the US military command systematically spread—and then exploited—the myth of French women as sexually experienced and available. The resulting chaos—ranging from flagrant public sex with prostitutes to outright rape and rampant venereal disease—horrified the war-weary and demoralized French population. The sexual predation, and the blithe response of the American military leadership, also caused serious friction between the two nations just as they were attempting to settle questions of long-term control over the liberated territories and the restoration of French sovereignty. 
While never denying the achievement of D-Day, or the bravery of the soldiers who took part, What Soldiers Do reminds us that history is always more useful—and more interesting—when it is most honest, and when it goes beyond the burnished beauty of nostalgia to grapple with the real lives and real mistakes of the people who lived it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226923123
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 05/10/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 617,531
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Mary Louise Roberts is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin and the author of Disruptive Acts: The New Woman in Fin de Siècle France and Civilization without Sexes: Reconstructing Gender in Post-war France, 1918–1928.

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What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
CasualTrekkie More than 1 year ago
Excellent history - as opposed to nostalgia - with clear historical indicators. WWII soldiers were no "greatest" generation, just as depraved as the rest of us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author tries to make the point that the US Army stormed the beaches at Omaha for sex. In the intro she says her father would be prould of her honesty. I don't know what her father would ssy but most veterans would call this bunk!