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xxx / Prologue As biographer Merle Miller comments, a photograph taken of the two men just before the Bonus Marchers’ eviction says it all: “Eisenhower looks as if he wished he were anywhere else, while MacArthur looks delighted .”49 During the mayhem that ensued, MacArthur displayed characteristic flamboyance and an equally characteristic disregard for orders. And Eisenhower, his subordinate, covered for him. Indeed, Eisenhower’s report for the secretary of war, written in MacArthur’s name, failed to mention that the general had deliberately disobeyed President Hoover by clearing the Anacostia Flats. Hoover’s directive called for the removal of the Bonus Marchers from some abandoned warehouses and from the capital’s business district, not their expulsion from the entire city. MacArthur had charged forward anyway. Eisenhower also held his tongue when it came to the excessive violence directed at the ragged veterans and their families. It was the Bonus Marchers, he less-­ than-­ plausibly asserted , who started the fires that consumed Camp Marks.50 Press photographs and newsreels of MacArthur’s soldiers in action showed otherwise .51 As we will see in chapter 1 of this study, the Bonus Army represented an especially dramatic mobilization, driven from the bottom up, of memory in the service of politics. On the streets of Washington, DC, in 1932, Eisenhower encountered remembrance at its most violent and divisive. Nothing could have been further removed from the sequestered operations of the ABMC’s Historical Section. Thus, not surprisingly, most biographers devote more pages to Eisenhower’s participation in the “disagreeable” events of a single day than to his entire period of “disgusted service” with the ABMC. However, when placed within the wider cultural history of America between the wars, Eisenhower’s nearly two years as a historical researcher, editor, and author take on greater significance. For example, his tenure as a war historian in the late 1920s coincides with an especially important phase in the ongoing debate, much of it conducted via literature and film, over the meaning of Ameri­ can participation in the Great War. While Eisenhower and his colleagues in the Historical Section tracked down military facts that would eventually be situated within the federal government’s official version of memory, powerful alternative visions became common cultural currency. Nineteen twenty-­ nine, a year of turbulent memory conflicts of various kinds, saw Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, the most popular war novel ever written, become a mega–best seller in the United Prologue / xxxi States—but not without strong criticism from veterans who were skeptical of the German writer’s version of war experience.52 Triggered in part by Remarque’s success, novels and memoirs that were focused on the Great War (collectively known simply as “war books”) flooded the Ameri­ can market. In all, no fewer than thirteen major Ameri­ can war books came out in 1929 (including Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and William Faulkner’s Sartoris),53 and still more would appear in 1930, along with important cinematic spectacles such as Howard Hughes’s Hell’s Angels and Lewis Milestone’s Academy Award–winning version of All Quiet.54 While Eisenhower roamed the battlefields in France, the Ameri­ can Legion and Houghton-­ Mifflin teamed up to offer a twenty-­ five-­ thousand-­ dollar prize—approximately three hundred thousand dollars in today’s currency—for the best Ameri­ can novel of the Great War. The controversy over the contest’s outcome, addressed later in this study, received considerable press coverage. And in New York’s theater district, where Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stalling’s smash hit What Price Glory? (1924) had earlier established the First World War as a dependable draw for theatergoing audiences, R. C. Sherriff’s British war play, Journey’s End (1928), began its successful Ameri­ can run.55 Nineteen twenty-­ nine was also the year when the United States Congress, in an unprecedented move, voted to give so-­ called Gold Star Mothers, women who had lost sons or daughters in the war, the chance to visit the ABMC’s cemeteries at government expense. President Calvin Coolidge signed the legislation into law shortly before leaving office, and in 1930, within a few months of Eisenhower’s return to Washington, DC, members of the first Gold Star Mothers’ Pilgrimage set off for the former Western Front. Contrary to the assertions of some historians, widespread fascination with the First World War remained relatively constant in America between 1919 and 1941. However, the tail end of...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780817383497
Related ISBN
9780817317058
MARC Record
OCLC
760066697
Pages
304
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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