Susan R. GrayzelApr 1, 2023
The Age of the Gas Mask
How British Civilians Faced the Terrors of Total War
Cambridge University Press 2022
On this episode, we sit down with Dr. Susan R. Grayzel, Professor of History at Utah State University to discuss The Age of the Gas Mask: How British Civilians Faced the Terrors of Total War (Cambridge University Press, 2022). Professor Grayzel compellingly and skillfully explores the history of one object - the civilian gas mask - to reveal the reach of modern, total war and the limits of the state trying to safeguard civilian life in an extensive empire. The First World War introduced the widespread use of lethal chemical weapons. In its aftermath, the British government, like that of many states, had to prepare civilians to confront such weapons in a future war. Over the course of the interwar period, it developed individual anti-gas protection as a cornerstone of civil defense. Drawing on records from Britain's Colonial, Foreign, War and Home Offices and other archives alongside newspapers, journals, personal accounts and cultural sources, she connects the histories of the First and Second World Wars, combatants and civilians, men and women, metropole and colony, illuminating how new technologies of warfare shaped culture, politics, and society.
Dr. Julia M. Gossard hosts this episode. She is Associate Dean for Research in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Associate Professor of History at Utah State University.