Children and War: A Historical Anthology. Edited by James Marten. New York: NYU Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8147-5667-0. Photographs. Illustrations. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xvi, 313. $20.00.
Erik Erikson claims "It is human to have a long childhood. It is civilized to have an ever longer childhood." James Marten's edited anthology Children and War demonstrates not only the enormous variation in the ways in which children's lives are affected by warfare but also just how short a timespan may be allocated to "childhood" in many supposedly civilized cultures. In addition to the great differences in scale and in the geographic and chronological locations of the conflicts covered in this anthology, their child subjects range from two-year-old enfants de troupe in the eighteenth century French army to teenagers in the siege of Leningrad. Although a small number of chapters deal with more familiar topics, such as Kindertransporte and child evacuees, many others illuminate less extensively researched areas, often utilising evidence from children's diaries or oral testimonies. Michael Schroeder, for example, draws on the oral accounts of boys who, in the 1920s, joined the army of General Augusto Sandino in Nicaragua whilst Chris O'Brien utilises American children's recollections of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In an attempt to impose some order on this diverse collection, Professor Marten has divided the volume into three sections—"Memory and Meaning," "Lesson and Literature," and "Actors and Victims." In this way essays from a wide range of locations and periods are successfully linked by a common theme introduced in a short overview by the editor. Although a small number of contributions, such as Dominique Marshall's essay "Humanitarian Sympathy for Children in Times of War and the History of Children's Rights, 1919-1959," sit a little uneasily in their allocated sections, the device generally benefits the reader by bringing together a diversity of thematically linked essays.
Professor Marten himself acknowledges that the decision to include such
a wide variety of contributions has meant that the authors have been
severely constrained in terms of the length of their essays. Nevertheless,
the contributions effectively illustrate an impressive range of issues
in relation to the overarching topic of children and war and all are
adequately referenced to allow the reader to pursue the arguments further.
University of Sheffield