Book Review: Disabled Veterans in History


by David A. Gerber, Editor

Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012. Pp. xxiv,384. Illus., notes. $35.00 paper. ISBN: 0472110330

While books about veterans and their role in history are numerous, only recently has much attention been given to the disabled veteran, a matter which is now coming to public attention, and the subject of Disabled Veterans in History, a n “enlarged and revised” edition of the work originally published in 2000,

Disabled Veterans in History opens with two introductions, one by Prof. Gerber (Buffalo), a specialist in disability studies.  Then follow fourteen essays by various specialists, grouped into three categories. 

·  “Representation”:  Three essay deal with the image of the disabled veteran across in Ancient Greece and modern cinema. 

·  “Public Policy”:  Seven essays grouped under “Public Policy” look at the ways in which the Western world has evolved what might be termed a “safety net” for disabled veterans, with case studies on various nations from seventeenth century England through the problems of “Great Patriotic War” veterans since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

·   “Living With a Disability”: Four essays examine the experience of the disabled veteran since the mid-1800s, alcoholism in American Civil War veterans, the veteran experience in post-World War I Britain
and Germany, the development of rehabilitation programs in Canada, and “Post-Modern American Heroism,” particularly interesting in addressing the changing meaning of “hero” in American society, asking who is a “hero” when all who serve are given that designation.

All of the essays are interesting and informative, but the perhaps the most valuable is the thoughtful “Afterword: A Challenge to Historians,” by Jonathan Shay, author of Achilles in Vietnam, who calls for more attention to the problems and roles of disabled veterans. 

A volume in the series “Corporealities: Discourses of Disability”,  Disabled Veterans in History is a useful read for anyone interested in military history.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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