David J. Silbey and Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai, "Wars Civil and Great: The American Experience in the Civil War and World War I" (UP of Kansas, 2023)


The Civil War and the Great War occupy very different places in American memory and, often, in U.S. history books. Yet, they were fought only fifty years apart and have more connections than are often recognized and remembered. During the Great War, as World War I was initially known, people from leaders to ordinary Americans still remembered the Civil War. They drew lessons, contrasts, and were generally influenced by the previous conflict. 

In a new edited collection, Wars Civil and Great: The American Experience in the Civil War and World War I (University of Kansas Press, 2023), editors David J. Silbey and Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai bring these two wars into conversation to bring about a deeper understanding of the history of both. Each contributing author addresses four overarching questions: What legacy did the Civil War leave? Did the World War I generation interpret the lessons of the Civil War, and if so, how? How did the Great War change the lessons from the Civil War era? And finally, how did both wars contribute to the modernization of the United States?

The unique periodization of this volume provides insights often unknown or overlooked. In this episode of the podcast, we speak with the co-editors about the concept of the collection and some of those insights. We discuss the military and political leadership of the wars as well as medical, environmental, and mental health histories and, finally, veterans' experiences and historical memory.

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Christine Lamberson

Christine Lamberson is a historian. Her research and teaching focuses on 20th century U.S. political and cultural history. She’s currently working on a book manuscript about the role of violence in shaping U.S. political culture in the 1960s and 1970s.

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