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The Compensations of War

The Diary of an Ambulance Driver during the Great War

By Guy Emerson Bowerman

In 1917, shortly after the United States’ declaration of war on Germany, Guy Emerson Bowerman, Jr., enlisted in the American army’s ambulance service; this is the diary he kept for his seventeen months of service.

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Dew of Death

The Story of Lewisite, America's World War I Weapon of Mass Destruction

Joel A. Vilensky. With the assistance of Pandy R. Sinish. Foreword by Richard Butler

"Dr. Vilensky raises important concerns regarding the threats posed by lewisite and other weapons of mass destruction. As he describes, non-proliferation programs are a vital component in the War on Terror." -- Richard G. Lugar, United States Senator

"Joel Vilensky's book is a detailed and immensely useful account of the development and history of one of the major chemical weapons.... We will always know how to make lewisite, the 'Dew of Death,' but that does not mean that we should, or be compelled to accept such weapons in our lives." -- from the Foreword by Richard Butler, former head of UN Special Commission to Disarm Iraq

In 1919, when the Great War was over, the New York Times reported on a new chemical weapon with "the fragrance of geranium blossoms," a poison gas that was "the climax of this country's achievements in the lethal arts." The name of this substance was lewisite and this is its story -- the story of an American weapon of mass destruction.

Discovered by accident by a graduate student and priest in a chemistry laboratory at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., lewisite was developed into a weapon by Winford Lewis, who became its namesake, working with a team led by James Conant, later president of Harvard and head of government oversight for the U.S.'s atomic bomb program, the Manhattan Project. After a powerful German counterattack in the spring of 1918, the government began frantic production of lewisite in hopes of delivering 3,000 tons of the stuff to be ready for use in Europe the following year. The end of war came just as the first shipment was being prepared. It was dumped into the sea, but not forgotten.

Joel A. Vilensky tells the intriguing story of the discovery and development of lewisite and its curious history. During World War II, the United States produced more than 20,000 tons of lewisite, testing it on soldiers and secretly dropping it from airplanes. In the end, the substance was abandoned as a weapon because it was too unstable under most combat conditions. But a weapon once discovered never disappears. It was used by Japan in Manchuria and by Iraq in its war with Iran. The Soviet Union was once a major manufacturer. Strangely enough, although it was developed for lethal purposes, lewisite led to an effective treatment for a rare neurological disease.

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Doughboys on the Great War

How American Soldiers Viewed Their Military Experience

A compelling narrative drawn from the first-hand accounts of American soldiers who served in France during WW1.

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Einstein's Pacifism and World War I

Virginia Iris Holmes

To understand how Albert Einstein’s pacifist and internationalist thought matured from a youthful inclination to pragmatic initiatives and savvy insights, Holmes gives readers access to Einstein in his own words. Through his private writings, she shows how Einstein’s thoughts and feelings in response to the war evolved from horrified disbelief, to ironic alienation from both the war’s violence and patriotic support for it by the German people, to a kind of bleak endurance. Meanwhile, his outward responses progressed, from supporting initiatives of other pacifists, to developing his own philosophy of a postwar order, to being the impetus behind initiatives.

In the beginning of the postwar period, Einstein’s writing reflected an optimism about Germany’s new Weimar Republic and trust in the laudatory effects of military defeat and economic hardship on the German people. He clearly supported the principles in US President Woodrow Wilson’s "Fourteen Points" speech. Yet Einstein’s enthusiasm diminished as he became disappointed in the early Weimar Republic’s leaders and as his aversion to the culture of violence developing in Germany grew. He also felt offended at the betrayal of Wilson’s principles in the Treaty of Versailles. Drawing upon personal correspondence and public proclamations, Holmes offers an intimate and nuanced exploration of the pacifist thought of one of our greatest intellectuals.

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The Embattled Self

French Soldiers' Testimony of the Great War

by Leonard V. Smith

How did the soldiers in the trenches of the Great War understand and explain battlefield experience, and themselves through that experience? Situated at the intersection of military history and cultural history, The Embattled Self draws on the testimony of French combatants to explore how combatants came to terms with the war. In order to do so, they used a variety of narrative tools at hand—rites of passage, mastery, a character of the soldier as a consenting citizen of the Republic. None of the resulting versions of the story provided a completely consistent narrative, and all raised more questions about the "truth" of experience than they answered. Eventually, a story revolving around tragedy and the soldier as victim came to dominate—even to silence—other types of accounts. In thematic chapters, Leonard V. Smith explains why the novel structured by a specific notion of trauma prevailed by the 1930s.

Smith canvasses the vast literature of nonfictional and fictional testimony from French soldiers to understand how and why the "embattled self" changed over time. In the process, he undermines the conventional understanding of the war as tragedy and its soldiers as victims, a view that has dominated both scholarly and popular opinion since the interwar period. The book is important reading not only for traditional historians of warfare but also for scholars in a variety of fields who think critically about trauma and the use of personal testimony in literary and historical studies.

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Faith in the Fight

Religion and the American Soldier in the Great War

Jonathan H. Ebel

Faith in the Fight tells a story of religion, soldiering, suffering, and death in the Great War. Recovering the thoughts and experiences of American troops, nurses, and aid workers through their letters, diaries, and memoirs, Jonathan Ebel describes how religion--primarily Christianity--encouraged these young men and women to fight and die, sustained them through war's chaos, and shaped their responses to the war's aftermath. The book reveals the surprising frequency with which Americans who fought viewed the war as a religious challenge that could lead to individual and national redemption. Believing in a "Christianity of the sword," these Americans responded to the war by reasserting their religious faith and proclaiming America God-chosen and righteous in its mission. And while the war sometimes challenged these beliefs, it did not fundamentally alter them.

Revising the conventional view that the war was universally disillusioning, Faith in the Fight argues that the war in fact strengthened the religious beliefs of the Americans who fought, and that it helped spark a religiously charged revival of many prewar orthodoxies during a postwar period marked by race riots, labor wars, communist witch hunts, and gender struggles. For many Americans, Ebel argues, the postwar period was actually one of "reillusionment."

Demonstrating the deep connections between Christianity and Americans' experience of the First World War, Faith in the Fight encourages us to examine the religious dimensions of America's wars, past and present, and to work toward a deeper understanding of religion and violence in American history.

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Fall of the Double Eagle

The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary

John R. Schindler

Although southern Poland and western Ukraine are not often thought of in terms of decisive battles in World War I, the impulses that precipitated the Battle for Galicia in August 1914—and the unprecedented carnage that resulted—effectively doomed the Austro-Hungarian Empire just six weeks into the war.

In Fall of the Double Eagle, John R. Schindler explains how Austria-Hungary, despite military weakness and the foreseeable ill consequences, consciously chose war in that fateful summer of 1914. Through close examination of the Austro-Hungarian military, especially its elite general staff, Schindler shows how even a war that Vienna would likely lose appeared preferable to the “foul peace” the senior generals loathed. After Serbia outgunned the polyglot empire in a humiliating defeat, and the offensive into Russian Poland ended in the massacre of more than four hundred thousand Austro-Hungarians in just three weeks, the empire never recovered. While Austria-Hungary’s ultimate defeat and dissolution were postponed until the autumn of 1918, the late summer of 1914 on the plains and hills of Galicia sealed its fate.

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Fighting Fascism in Europe

The World War II Letters of an American Veteran of the Spanish Civil War

David Cane

On his first day in basic training in 1942, Lawrence Cane wrote his wife Grace from Fort Dix, New Jersey. I'm in the army now?really!he wrote, complaining, I don't have enough time to write a decent letter.Three years later, Capt. Lawrence Cane went home from World War II. He'd landed at Utah Beach on D-Day, helped liberate France and Belgium, and survived the Battle of the Bulge. He won a Silver Star for bravery. And he still managed to write 300 letters home to Grace. This book is a different kind of war story--both an powerful chronicle of life in battle and a unique portrait of courage fueled by a life-long passion for political justice.Cane's fight for freedom began well before D-Day. In 1937, joined the Abraham Lincoln Battalion and got wounded fighting for democracy in Spain. In 1942, at age 30, he enlisted in the new war against fascism, and as an officer with the 238th Combat Engineer Battalion, went ashore in Normandy to clear mines, destroy fortifications, and open roads from Normandy to the Siegfried Line. Of the 400 Spanish Civil War veterans in World War II, Cane was the only one to go ashore on D-Day.After the war, Lawrence Cane fought for civil rights and peace until his death in 1976. Discovered in 1995 by Cane's son David, his letters are not only classic accounts of war and unforgettable expressions of love for family. They are the fiercely patriotic words of a left-wing, working-class New York Jew (and one-time Communist Party member) who knew exactly why we fought---to create a better world by destroying all forms of fascism, one battle at a time.With a fascinating introduction by David Cane, detailed notes, and much additional material, these letters add a new dimension to the meaning of American patriotism and an invaluable chapter to the history of the greatest generation.

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For Home and Country

World War I Propaganda on the Home Front

Celia Malone Kingsbury

World War I prompted the first massive organized propaganda campaign of the twentieth century. Posters, pamphlets, and other media spread fear about the “Hun,” who was often depicted threatening American families in their homes, while additional campaigns encouraged Americans and their allies to support the war effort. With most men actively involved in warfare, women and children became a special focus—and a tool—of social manipulation during the war. For Home and Country examines the propaganda that targeted noncombatants on the home front in the United States and Europe during World War I. Cookbooks, popular magazines, romance novels, and government food agencies targeted women in their homes, especially their kitchens, pressuring them to change their domestic habits. Children were also taught to fear the enemy and support the war through propaganda in the form of toys, games, and books. And when women and children were not the recipients of propaganda, they were often used in propaganda to target men. By examining a diverse collection of literary texts, songs, posters, and toys, Celia Malone Kingsbury reveals how these pervasive materials were used to fight the war’s cultural battle.

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