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War girls

The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in the First World War

Janet Lee

Total war tends to create a situation that falls back on established social and cultural discourses and institutional arrangements at the same time that it provides the opportunity for a shifting and renegotiation of these arrangements. This book explores how the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) drew upon, and/or subverted cultural mythologies to make sense of their wartime service. It focuses on this renegotiation of gender and examines seven key themes implicit in this process. The first theme concerns the ways women's military organizations utilized traditional notions of genteel femininity and its accompanying nurturance, cheerfulness and devotion in their promise of service, yet went beyond the parameters of such cultural mythologies. The second focuses on the gendering of military heroism. The third theme addresses the context of female military service in terms of the preparation women received, the opportunities they were given and the risks they took, and focuses on their coping behaviours. Theme four focuses specifically on women's transgression into the masculine terrain of driving and mechanics and shares the ways they developed skills and competencies previously off-limits for women. Such transgressions almost invariably led to women having to negotiate masculine authority and develop skills in autonomy, independence and assertiveness - the focus of theme five. The last two themes discussed in the book address the integration and consolidation of women's organizations as the war progressed and their service became indispensable.

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Understanding the imaginary war

Culture, thought and nuclear conflict, 1945–90

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Edited by: Matthew Grant and Benjamin Ziemann

This volume takes the metaphorical character of the Cold War seriously and charts how the bomb was used as a symbol for nuclear war at the very heart of this conflict. The contributions consider the historical relevance of the political, cultural and artistic ramifications of nuclear weapons as signifiers for a new type of conflict. Tis understanding of the metaphorical qualities of the Cold War is encapsulated in the notion of an imaginary war, or, more precisely, a war against the imagination. As an attack against the imagination, the nuclear threat forced politicians and ordinary people to accept the notion that preparations for nuclear annihilation would contribute towards peace, and that the existence of these weapons, and the anticipation of large-scale destruction that came with them, were an inescapable corollary of security, freedom and future prosperity on both sides of the Cold war divide.

Open Access (free)

A war of individuals

Bloomsbury attitudes to the Great War

Jonathan Atkin

The Great War still haunts us. This book draws together examples of the ‘aesthetic pacifism’ practised during the Great War by such celebrated individuals as Virginia Woolf, Siegfried Sassoon and Bertrand Russell. It also tells the stories of those less well known who shared the attitudes of the Bloomsbury Group when it came to facing the first ‘total war’. The five-year research for this study gathered evidence from all the major archives in Great Britain and abroad in order to paint a complete picture of this unique form of anti-war expression. The narrative begins with the Great War's effect on philosopher-pacifist Bertrand Russell and Cambridge University.

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The naval war film

Genre, history, national cinema

Jonathan Rayner

This book undertakes a consideration of the depiction of naval warfare within British and American cinema. The films (ranging from examples from the interwar period, the Second World War, the Cold War and contemporary cinema) encompass all areas of naval operations in war, and highlight varying institutional and aesthetic responses to navies and the sea in popular culture. Examination of the films centres on their similarities to and differences from the conventions of the war genre as described in earlier analyses, and seeks to determine whether the distinctive characteristics of naval film narratives justify their categorisation as a separate genre or sub-genre in popular cinema. The explicit factual bases and drama-documentary style of many key naval films (such as In Which We Serve, They Were Expendable and Das Boot) also require a consideration of them as texts for popular historical transmission. Their frequent reinforcement of establishment views of the past, which derives from their conservative ideological position towards national and naval culture, makes these films key texts for the consideration of national cinemas as purveyors of contemporary history as popularly conceived by filmmakers and received by audiences.

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War and welfare

British POW families, 1939–45

Barbara Hately-Broad

During the Second World War, some 250,000 British servicemen were taken captive either by the Axis powers or the Japanese, as a result of which their wives and families became completely dependent on the military and civil authorities for news of their loved ones and for financial and material support. This book outlines the nature of their plight, and shows how they attempted to overcome the particular difficulties they faced during and in the immediate aftermath of hostilities. It opens up a whole new area of analysis and examines the experiences of the millions of service dependents created by total war. Taking as its starting point the provisions made by pre-Second World War British governments to meet the needs of its service dependents, the book then goes on to focus on the most disadvantaged elements of this group – the wives, children and dependents of men taken prisoner – and the changes brought about by the exigencies of total war. Further chapters reflect on how these families organised to lobby government and the strategies they adopted to circumvent apparent bureaucratic ineptitude and misinformation. The book contributes to our understanding of the ways in which welfare provision was developed during the Second World War.

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‘War on terror’

The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2006

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Edited by: Chris Miller

'Terror' is a diffuse notion that takes no account of local particularities and 'war on terror' is a contradiction in terms. This book is based on the lectures that were given on the subject in Oxford in 2006. Amnesty has described 'war on terror' as a war on human rights. It is also a contest of narratives: stories that the protagonists tell about themselves, about their enemies, and about what is happening now. The book considers how the recent actions of the United States have stressed and stretched two areas of international law: the right of self-defence, and the rules of international humanitarian law. State terrorism, with a bit of careful spin, can be reclassified as counter-terrorism, in other words as inherently good in the same way that terrorism is inherently bad. The book engages with the politico-conceptual difficulties of distinguishing between war and terrorism. The interface and tensions between the human rights tradition and the Islamic tradition, particularly Islamic law, is discussed. The intensification of Western repression against Islamic thinkers or activists has at times been coupled with policies that seemed designed to change the religious trajectory of society. The sexualization of torture is only one way in which the 'war on terror' has delineated who is (and who is not) human. Religion, human rights, and trauma narratives are three other mechanisms for rationalizing suffering. The book also discusses the subject of censuring reckless killing of innocent civilians by the issue of fatwas by Muslim teachers.

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The ethics of war

Second edition

A. J. Coates

Though the just war tradition has an ancient pedigree, like any tradition of thought, it is subject to historical highs and lows. Drawing on examples from the history of warfare from the Crusades to the present day, this book explores the limits and possibilities of the moral regulation of war. It focuses on the tensions which exist between war and morality. The moral ambiguity and mixed record of that tradition is acknowledged and the dangers which an exaggerated view of the justice or moral worth of war poses are underlined. The adoption of a 'dispositional' view of ethical life, in which moral character and moral culture play a decisive part, widens and transforms the ethics of war. Realism resists the application of morality to war. Pacifism harms and benefits the just war tradition in about equal measure. In opposition to the amoral and wholly pragmatic approach of the 'pure' realist, the just war theorist insists on the moral determination of war where that is possible, and on the moral renunciation of war where it is not. Moral realism is what the just war tradition purports to be about. Legitimate authority has become entirely subordinated to the concept of state sovereignty. If moderate forms of consequentialism threaten the principle of noncombatant immunity, more extreme or purer forms clearly undermine it. The strategic and the ethical problems of counterterrorism are compounded by the emergence of a new and more extreme form of terrorism.

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Britain’s Korean War

Cold War diplomacy, strategy and security 1950–53

Thomas Hennessey

Coming just five years after the ravages of the Second World War, the Korean war was a deeply unsettling moment in post-war British history. This book is a study of Britain's diplomatic, military and security policy during the Korean War as seen from the perspective of the British Government. It explores the social and cultural impact of the Korean War (1950-53) on Britain. From allegations about American use of 'germ' warfare to anxiety over Communist use of 'brainwashing' and treachery at home, the Korean War precipitated a series of short-lived panics in 1950s Britain. The book charts the war's changing position in British popular imagination and asks how it became known as the 'Forgotten War'. The study presented argues that the British did have influence over American decision-making during the Korean War. Whereas the existing United Nations resolutions would permit 'swirling' across the 38th parallel operations of a politico-military nature would require further United Nations consideration. The British did not have a veto over American strategy in Korea - but under the Truman administration they came pretty close to one with respect to the widening of the war into China. The Attlee-Truman talks, in December 1950, secured for the British the watershed agreement of the right to be consulted on the use of the atomic bomb. The book also talks about General Douglas MacArthur, the 1951 Chinese capture of Seoul by communists, and the concept of a British 'Manchurian Candidate'-type figure indoctrinated by the Chinese in Korea.

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The Korean War in Britain

Citizenship, selfhood and forgetting

Grace Huxford

The Korean War in Britain explores the social and cultural impact of the Korean War (1950–53) on Britain. Coming just five years after the ravages of the Second World War, Korea was a deeply unsettling moment in post-war British history. When North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, Britons worried about a return to total war and the prospect of atomic warfare. As the war progressed, British people grew uneasy about the conduct of the war. From American ‘germ’ warfare allegations to anxiety over Communist use of ‘brainwashing’, the Korean War precipitated a series of short-lived panics in 1950s Britain. But by the time of its uneasy ceasefire in 1953, the war was becoming increasingly forgotten, with more attention paid to England’s cricket victory at the Ashes than to returning troops. Using Mass Observation surveys, letters, diaries and a wide range of under-explored contemporary material, this book charts the war’s changing position in British popular imagination, from initial anxiety in the summer of 1950 through to growing apathy by the end of the war and into the late-twentieth century. Built around three central concepts – citizenship, selfhood and forgetting – The Korean War in Britain connects a critical moment in Cold War history to post-war Britain, calling for a more integrated approach to Britain’s Cold War past. It explores the war a variety of viewpoints – conscript, POW, protestor and veteran – to offer the first social history of this ‘forgotten war’. It is essential reading for anyone interested in Britain’s post-1945 history.

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The politics of war reporting

Authority, authenticity and morality

Tim Markham

This book challenges the assumptions that reporters and their audiences alike have about the way the trade operates and how it sees the world. It unpacks the taken-for-granted aspects of the lives of war correspondents, exposing the principles of interaction and valorisation that usually go unacknowledged. Is journalistic authority really only about doing the job well? Do the ethics of war reporting derive simply from the ‘stuff’ of journalism? The book asks why it is that the authoritative reporter increasingly needs to appear authentic, and that success depends not only on getting things right but being the right sort of journalist. It combines the critical sociology of Pierre Bourdieu and interviews with war correspondents and others with an active stake in the field to construct a political phenomenology of war reporting—the power relations and unspoken ‘rules of the game’ underpinning the representation of conflict and suffering by the media.