Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars

George L. Mosse, Author
George L. Mosse, Author Oxford University Press, USA $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-19-506247-2
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
In this absorbing, beautifully written study, the author traces the emergence of the ``myth of the war experience'' with its emphasis on glory rather than horror, showing how societies in the West came to rely on it, especially after the carnage of WW I, to make ``an inherently unpalatable past acceptable.'' Mosse argues that the commemoration of the dead of WW I in Germany, Britain, Italy and the U.S. was analogous to the construction of a national church with its own saints, martyrs and places of worship--a heritage for the next generation to emulate. In popular culture the war was sentimentalized, trivialized and domesticated in an attempt to render it commonplace instead of colossal and frightening. The cult of the fallen soldier declined in WW II and lost most of its appeal in the face of the nuclear threat. In the author's view, the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., is a monument to the death of the ``myth of the war experience.'' Mosse is an emeritus professor of history affiliated with both Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the University of Wisconsin. Illustrations. (Mar.)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!