From the March 2018 Desktop News | Dr. Andrew J. Huebner, an associate professor of history, recently published a book with Oxford University Press titled Love and Death in the Great War. Through the use of real stories and letters exchanged between loved ones, the book delves into the intricate relationship between World War I propaganda and the lived experience of the war itself.
“I’ve been interested for as long as I can remember in the study of what we call ‘war and society´—the radiating impact of armed conflict on families, communities, culture, politics, and everyday life,” Huebner said. “This new book grew from the applications of such questions, but applied to the First World War, which has always intrigued me for rather personal reasons.”
Throughout his extensive research for the book, Huebner sought out archived historical materials surrounding individuals to complement a broader reinterpretation of wartime justifications for the intervention. In one case, this research unearthed new details about a relative.
“My grandfather’s brother Arthur, a German-speaking American, fought in that war against Germany,” Heubner said. “Like a needle in a haystack, on a late page in a long letter, a fellow soldier describes the wounding of Arthur in the war’s last moments on November 11, 1918. I’ve always known Arthur was shot that day, but here was a physical description.”
Love and Death in the Great War has garnered positive reviews from historians for its vivid narratives and reflection on the role of transatlantic communication during the war.
“In our own time of instant communication, it’s easy to forget what things used to look like,” Huebner said. “Letters had an enormous and varied impact: they could make your day because they arrived or ruin it because they didn’t; they could engender misery or elation.”
For more information on Love and Death in the Great War, visit Oxford University Press online.