‘Over there’
American confidence and the narrative of resilience in the Great War
in Working in a world of hurt
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American military deaths in the Great War, which totalled 116,708, can be considered minor, in comparison to the millions lost by Germany, France, Britain, and other nations. Yet the comparatively small number of American wounded and the vast number of the wounded of the other nations were treated by a not insignificant cohort of volunteers from the United States who attached themselves, even before America’s entry into the War, to the French and British Red Crosses and after April 1917, to the American Expeditionary Force and American Red Cross. This chapter focuses on accounts not only by doctors and nurses, but also by male ambulance drivers, whose gendered identities are particular challenged by this aspect of medical care. Published books catered to an avid American commercial readership, while private correspondence was directed to loved ones equally eager for tales of adventure The patriotic confidence in America’s mission ‘over there’ is a significant feature of these carers’ narratives where resilience dominates in spite of or, even in opposition to, the graphic descriptions of blood and anguish with which they were faced.

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