Civilians in a World at War, 1914-1918
Publication Year: 2010
“A powerful and important book that turns our attention to the often understudied experiences of civilians at war. Civilians in a World at War, 1914-1918, makes a major contribution not only to the history of World War I but to the history of civilians involved in war before and since.”
Published by: NYU Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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The idea for this book emerged slowly as a result of two quite disparate experiences in 2001. First, a conference in Lyon, France, sponsored by the newly formed International Society for First World War Studies, challenged me to consider transnational experiences of war. Jenny Macleod and Pierre Purseigle made this conference a truly...
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“I would make a good soldier,” twelve-year-old Elfriede “Piete” Kuhr confided to her war diary on August 4, 1914, in her East Prussian town of Schneidemühl. That same month on the other side of the developing battle lines, ten-year-old Yves Congar was playing with his toy soldiers when the Germans marched into his home town of Sedan...
1. Citizens in Uniform
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On a cold November day in 1914, Edward Casey interrupted his walk along the Barking Road in East London to enter the army recruiting office. Born of Irish parents and living in the slums of Britain’s capital, sixteen-year-old Casey thought of war service as a novelty that would enliven his dreary life. Casey lied about his age to get past the first...
2. Civilians and the Labor of War
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We were a mixed bag of recruits. . . . We were young, scared and excited, and we got up to some amazing high jinks. Whenever we stopped at a station, we simply poured out of the train, and took whatever we wanted from the railside stalls: food, fruit, magazines, anything that took our fancy. When people tried to get us to pay, we told them gleefully to ask the Government...
3. Constructing Home Fronts
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On August 1, 1914, twelve-year-old Elfriede “Piete” Kuhr decided to start a war diary to record the events around her in her East Prussian hometown of Schneidemühl, Germany. Life changed for her almost immediately, but in small ways at first. Piete recorded the new school rules in her diary for August...
4. Caught between the Lines
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Virginie Loveling, a well-known novelist living in Ghent (Belgium), faced the prospect of war with resignation in 1914, when she began a war diary at age seventy-eight. From the time Belgium mobilized to face the German threat in August until the armistice in 1918, Loveling kept a secret journal, describing life in the Etappen (staging zone for the...
5. Caring for the Wounded
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When the United States army sent out a call for a new group of civilian employees called “Reconstruction Aides” in January 1918, both Katrine Fairclough and Lena Hitchcock volunteered. These new “RAs” provided specialized care for recuperating soldiers in the areas of massage therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. While Katrine...
6. Creating War Experts
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More than any other war prior to 1914, the First World War spawned the modern phenomenon of “expert” assistance in the management and maintenance of war. Scientists, humanitarians, diplomats, clergy, social scientists, and voluntary aid workers devoted countless hours, and sometimes their own lives, to the war, often not as patriots...
7. Civilians behind the Wire
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The nightmares began almost as soon as he reached neutral territory. The dreams were vivid, featuring faceless officials wresting him from his comfortable Dutch hotel room and returning him to the horse stall where he’d spent the last three years. Gilbert Graham, a 28-year-old Australian electrical engineer released into Dutch custody in late April 1918...
8. Civil War and Revolution
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Between August 1914 and the signing of the peace treaty in June 1919, civil revolts, rioting, and revolutions broke out in dozens of countries around the world as the strain of wartime demands pushed crowds to desperate actions while also creating opportunities for dissident groups. Because many of these disturbances were civilian in nature, they...
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Countless times over the past few years as I have worked on this book, the following scenario has played out with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. They ask me about my current project, and when I reply that I am writing a civilian history of the First World War, the common response elicited is, “Oh, the home front.” For most people who consider...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2010