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.