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Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America

Paperback
, 320 pages

15 halftones, 3 line drawings

ISBN:
9780801874468
August 2003
Subject:
History
$30.00

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Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America

How does a democratic government conscript citizens, turn them into soldiers who can fight effectively against a highly trained enemy, and then somehow reward these troops for their service? In Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America, Jennifer D. Keene argues that the doughboy experience in 1917–18 forged the U.S. Army of the twentieth century and ultimately led to the most sweeping piece of social-welfare legislation in the nation's history—the G.I. Bill.

Keene shows how citizen-soldiers established standards of discipline that the army in a sense had to adopt. Even after these troops had returned to civilian life, lessons learned by the army during its first experience with a mass conscripted force continued to influence the military as an institution. The experience of going into uniform and fighting abroad politicized citizen-soldiers, Keene finally argues, in ways she asks us to ponder. She finds that the country and the conscripts—in their view—entered into a certain social compact, one that assured veterans that the federal government owed conscripted soldiers of the twentieth century debts far in excess of the pensions the Grand Army of the Republic had claimed in the late nineteenth century.

Jennifer D. Keene is an associate professor of history at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California.

"Jennifer D. Keene [has] illuminated these once unknown soldiers through scholarship of startling originality and insight."

"Keene's work deserves an audience not only among scholars of military history and international relations but also among those interested in questions of race, social welfare, labor, and the relationship between the individual citizen and the state in the twentieth century."

"Clearly written and magnificently researched... In the book's best passages Keene's Doughboys force the federal government to re-examine the relationship between itself and its citizen soldiers."

"This book is a valuable contribution to the history of World War I."

"Superb history of American soldiers during and after World War I... Full of rich, new material and original and fresh insights, all presented in a lively and engaging style."

"Her work should help return the First World War to a place of primary importance in American history."

"Keene's chapters on the military experiences of ordinary soldiers and the ways in which they perceived and articulated their careers as citizen soldiers are rich and engaging."

"This is an impressive piece of work, based on excellent primary sources in both France and the United States—a model of original research on an important topic. There is nothing exactly like this book at the intersection of social and military history. The writing is clear and effective, and Keene's arguments about conscription and her truly excellent chapter on the Bonus Army make her findings valuable to historians of all periods from the Civil War through the 1930s."

"Keene brings strong academic credentials to the work... this is an impressive addition to the scholarly base of American military hisotry albeit of decidedly different focus. Highly Recommended."