Coincident with the hundredth anniversary of the first American engagements in the First World War, Andrew J. Huebner joins New Books in Military History to talk about his book, Love and Death in the Great War (Oxford University Press, 2018). Through a collection of vignettes – some quite personal to him – Huebner considers the First World War through the lens of the average American citizen soldier and his family. Accordingly he describes how Americans genuinely believed they were taking part in a war to keep their families and futures safe from German aggression. Following a course largely set by propaganda, Americans personalized and romanticized the war far more than historians have thought in the past. Rather than being an agent for change, Huebner also presents the war as a call to normalcy, one which would reassert white Anglo-Saxon masculine prerogatives in a society that, under the Progressives, had for many become unmoored from its past.
Bob Wintermute is professor of history at Queens College, CUNY.