WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Articles from Vol. 27, 2015

A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War/Nash, Nevinson, Spencer, Gertler, Carrington, Bomberg: A Crisis of Brilliance, 1908 - 1923
A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War. 2009. David Boyd Haycock. London: Old Street Publishing, 2010 rpt., $20.00, paper, 386 pp.Nash, Nevinson, Spencer, Gertler, Carrington, Bomberg: A Crisis of Brilliance, 1908 - 1923....
After a Reading of War Poems, the Signing of Books
I've never been asked this before,asked to inscribe a bookfor someone who's dead.I can barely deal with deathin the backyard, voles preyed onby cats, a squirrel caught in the rain barrel:late, late fall and water as coldas the gnarled hand of death;my...
Among the Lightning Trees: A Conversation with Brian Turner
Born in Visalia, CA, in 1967, Brian Turner was raised in the rain shadow of California's Coast Range, the arid San Joaquin Valley. He spent his early childhood moving around the vast, agricultural hinterlands of the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada foothills....
Another Great Day at Sea: Life aboard the USS George H. W. Bush
Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H. W. Bush. Geoff Dyer. New York: Pantheon Books, 2014, $24.95, hardcover, 191 pp.This book is a delight. The English essayist, novelist and genre-bending author Geoff Dyer spends two weeks aboard...
A "Phrase Too Cute to Do Our Ugliness Justice": Portraying "Wounded Warriors" in Contemporary War Fiction
The only physically disabled character in Ben Fountain's excellent Iraq War novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2012) is not a combat veteran but the protagonist Billy Lynn's father Ray, who is confined to a wheelchair following a stroke. Though the...
Apocalypse Now
A retrospective by Jonathan LighterThe Washington Post reported that a preview showing of Apocalypse Now in 1979 left an audience of filmgoers "ashen" and "shell-shocked." For so unconventional a movie, that sounds like praise indeed. But two days later,...
At the Veteran's Hospital
"Everything we travel through is thorny and rough. There is no chance to save your clothes."-Elizabeth Smith, traveler on Oregon trail, 1845Father's hospital gown lies on the bed.Skin hangs loose on his hands, spreads thinover knuckles and creases at...
Blood and Water
I.He traces the angles of the room-blood and flesh.She bends to wipe his boot. His tags chimethe hour of leaving.Come home to meThis house, and everything in it suspendedwithin the silence-her mouth is a country.II.One land patch resembles anotherwhen...
Bobbie Ann Mason's the Girl in the Blue Beret: Aesthetic Experimentation, Evil, and American Cultural Memory of "The Good War"
Bobbie Ann Mason's latest novel, The Girl in the Blue Beret, appeared in 2011 to positive reviews. Readers remark that the novel underscores Mason's long-established capacity to craft rounded, believable characters and tense, intriguing plotlines. In...
Bryan Doerries Discusses the Theater of War & the Palliative of Shared Suffering
In ancient fifth-century Athens, if you had something of vital importance to say, you wrote a play. The most consequential utterances on the Attic tragic stage, commentary encompassing all manner of life and death issues, very often came from the mouths...
Burned Bones Deserve No Repose: Patrick Hicks's the Commandant of Lubizec
I've thought for some time now that forgetting begins on the blunted contours of language. An English teacher of mine once told me to pay attention when a poet repeats a word; when a poet turns to prose, white-knuckle the nearest available means of support,...
Contrails
Walking out in early evening,I glance upward for no reasonand see their mark across the sky,tracing a miles-long Xsomewhere near 30,000 feet.Just airliners, the normal traffic,and if I take the time,I can trace courses, onesouth by southeast towards...
Dogtags
Dogtags sway as your friend slams on the brake and pulls up to your family's house. Fresh and new, minted and pressed, your dogtags are still warm where your name was printed, your religion pronounced, you blood type engraved, your serial number stamped....
Ecotours, Ltd
(Ixil Triangle, Guatemala)Olive-shined and crumpled,eucalyptus leaves huddle weaklyatop steaming rocks, unmarrowthe lungs with a darker fragranceshocking you back to life.You breathe the stinging deeper,gaze the few chicken feathersmixed in, and smile:...
Everyone Breaks
I wanted to become a Man of Death, and so I found myself outside the small airport in Columbus, Georgia, standing amidst a few hundred young bucks who had also signed their lives away. A line of blue civilian vans pulled up. I boarded my assigned transport...
Fort Benning, Off-Base, Summer 1967
He was a master sergeant, E-7when I met him, recently retired,sitting on his front porchwatching patterns of clouds,a burgeoning summer storm.I had stopped-a young lieutenantwith orders for Southeast Asia-to put the top up on my MG,the car filling with...
Free Falling Soldier
Ben slips out the sliding door to my balcony. His calloused hands grip two glasses filled with equal parts Newcastle beer and Woodchuck cider. I balance a plate of Brie and butterfly crackers on my right palm and follow him outside. Across from my fifteenth...
Front Lines
The heat lifted from the grass and wrapped around me like a wet blanket. The rich, dank smell of the Mississippi hung in the air. Clouds floated slowly in from the Gulf like cotton balls. The lizards seemed to be panting for oxygen on the branches of...
Full Bird in Flight
Before the dawnbird dreams out loudI am at least half awake.The light bends around corners quietly,silently, but dawnbird knowsanyway and warns us all.It is a feathered prophet that cries, "Arise.It's here. Advance."Movement is life.You can see the Alvin...
Great Uncle
Glen was a digger, a tunneler,he was good at what he did, enjoyed it even.He was wounded three times and kept going back.He liked the monotony, it allowed him to think,to hear the music in his head.He was the group's listener because he had perfect pitch,each...
Happy Warriors in Arms: Aspects of Military Life in Evelyn Waugh's Put out More Flags and Sword of Honour
The documentary value of Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy1 has been widely acknowledged. Apart from the early, oft-quoted appraisals by Cyril Connolly-"unquestionably the finest novel to have come out of the war" (Stannard 337)- and Andrew Rutherford...
Henry James's Civil War Stories: The Homefront Experience and War Romance 1
Henry James wrote three short stories with Civil War settings: "The Story of a Year" (1865), "Poor Richard" (1867), and "A Most Extraordinary Case" (1868).2 In "The Story of a Year," Lizzie Crowe and John Ford secretly become engaged before John leaves...
Heroes and Victims
America's understanding of its veterans in recent times can be reduced to two basic narratives: the hero narrative and the victim narrative. The former narrative states that those who have served in uniform are heroes and due eternal gratitude, while...
Historical Dictionary of World War I Intelligence
Historical Dictionary of World War I Intelligence. Nigel West. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014. hardcover, $120.Readers interested in strategic intelligence and espionage during the Great War will find Nigel West's new historical...
History with a Human Face: Creative Nonfiction and the Oral Histories of the Vietnam War
This is a memory book, rather than one of hard fact and precise statistic.-Studs Terkel, Hard Times'We Were the War ...'Returning home to the ideological maelstrom that was the United States after the Vietnam War, it was ironic that those few voices...
Human Terrain
-And in an instant, suddenly, you will be visited . . . with thunder and with earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.Isaiah 28:6The proper translationisn't All is vanity thoughsuch is found everywhere-belief...
"I Can Soljer with Any Man": The Post 9-11 Renaissance of James Jones
In a letter to Charles Scribner about James Jones, Ernest Hemingway wrote:"He is an enormously skillful fuck-up whose work will do great harm to this country and I hope he kills himself just as soon as it does not hurt yours or his sales" (Lacy 644).Setting...
I'd Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them
Be Polite but Have a Plan to Kill Everyone You MeetWintric Ellis, newly arrived, pushes his size 8 boot into the spongy ground and feels the subtle give of the earth run through the ball of his foot, up his leg, and settle in his camouflaged hip. Green...
In Observance
The first time he said he loved me he said it in German, which was weird, because he didn't speak German. I reveled in the artificial romance as he tucked me in, kissed me on the forehead and boarded a plane to the Middle East.Three years spread across...
"It's All Good": Forms of Belief and the Limits of Irony in David Finkel's the Good Soldiers
"Less exposed than the civilian to new intellectual influences, the soldier is apt to retain firmly, or even to deepen, the impressions which made him, often reluctantly, a soldier in the first place. [...] How often, fatigued beyond endurance or horrified...
Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy
Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy. Eri Hotta. New York: Vintage Books, 2014, $16.95, paper, 323 pp.The Imperial Japanese Government's decision to initiate hostilities with the United States and its allies has remained a source of historical puzzlement...
Joyeux Noël and Remembering the Christmas Truce of 1914
"What would happen, I wonder, if the armies suddenly and simultaneously went on strike and said some other method must be found of settling the dispute?"-Winston Churchil l to his wife, Clementine, November 23, 1914.1Preface: July Crisis of 1914One hundred...
King Philip's War
I stood on the corner of Wait and Pequotin Roxbury, confusing the Pequot War with yours.I'm sorry. They shared the same paragraphon the glossy page of my expensive textbook.You wanted to push the Puritans out of your Plymouth.They just wanted to survive....
Kneel until Your Knees Bleed: A Fable
Diodorus records a paradigm shiftof some importance, no importance reallyif you were a person of little consequence,a poet perhaps, but if a king your lifewould be longer and more prosperous. Ergamanes,King of Nubia, disdained the divine recallof the...
Letter to Annie Anderson Containing a Recipe for Coughs
My world begins with the spiraling stemOf a trumpet flower, chokingThe proto-trunk of a young oak.The oak has slipped from the cracksOf the camphouse, where we,Learning how to flanking march,Assemble quickly, charge intoThe wilderness of cannon fireAnd...
Mass Nakedness in the Imaginary of the Nazis
In Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi vividly records the relentless attempts by the SS to dehumanize through nudity. When his group of ninety-six Italian men have been separated from the women and sent to Monowitz, near Auschwitz, guards greet them with...
Michael Casey's Obscenities: A Critique of Workaday Brutality
Introduction & BackgroundIn 1972, as the American ground war in Viet Nam was winding down-and the air war was escalating in North Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Laos-a unique volume of poetry, Michael Casey's Obscenities, was published by Yale University...
Most Distant and Most Dear": Clausewitzian Conflicts in Kipling's Barrack-Room Ballads
War acts as a great catalyst, a spark of destruction that sets into motion changes that ripple on for centuries. While war may inspire alterations of a greater nature-the shifting of powers in countries and governments, the halting of old ways and the...
My Friend Walks with Me: A Conversation with Jesse Goolsby
Bagram Airfield, Parwan Province, Afghanistan-population 25,000 During the blazing summer of 2014, the drawdown from 13 years of war, I spend many hours reading early drafts of my close friend's novel, I' d Walk With My Friends if I Could Find Them....
Negative Space
Againit's two a.m.Fresh linens roll themselvesinto a garrote, or the bodybeneath an avalancheof white sand and there is onlythis endand the other.At two a.m.the mattress forms a craterand sleep becomesa trench warfare of its own.For seconds, the bodyfinds...
No Man's War: An Interview with Angela Ricketts
Although I've served in the military for over 30 years, it's only now, with Angela Ricketts' memoir, that I feel what it's like to be married to a solider. In No Man's War, this self-proclaimed "Army wife" (not spouse) and mother of three, reflects on...
Nong Chan Camp, 1980 (Rice in Her Mouth)
At 7am, I was driving down the potholed dusty road through Thai military check points. Brown water buffalos wallowed in snake-infested, and emerald green rice paddies, set below even greener rolling hills. The leaves on the Sugar Palm trees flanking...
"Not Flowers for Poets' Tearful Foolings": First World War Poetry, Flowers and the Pastoral Failure
"In wilderness I forgotGardens immaculate."1"Here, there are no flowers to love2" mourned Richard Aldington during his service in the trenches in 1917, contradicting contemporary images we have of the Great War, rife with flowers sprouting on battlefields,...
No Trench Required: Validating the Voices of Female Poets of WWI
It is an ironic fact that the canon of WWI poetry is still defined by those who historically manned the actual cannons, the male soldiers. The 1914-1918 W WI canon is dominated by combatant poets who are perceived of as antiwar because of their use of...
Numbers
They came from towns with names like Zakrzówek, Bilgoraj, Szczebrzeszyn, Sokal and Sambor. Turka, Kolomyya, Wlodawa, Zamosc, and Sasów. Kielce and Grabow. Kraków and Lublin. Two came from Paris. One came from London. Two hundred and twenty-three from...
Obliteration: The Camouflaged Body, Australia, and Photography in Modern War
IntroductionCamouflage in the twenty-first century refers to military patterns and fashion, animal behaviours and colours, but also social processes that utilize hiding and dazzling, as well as concealment and deception.1 An early use of the word in...
Old School New School
If you worked for the U.S. government in eastern Afghanistan in 2003, any trip in a vehicle required two American soldiers and two Afghan guards, double that and double the vehicles if you went out of Jalalabad, where we had a small base-some 40 soldiers-to...
On Patriotism & the Language of GWOT
I remember walking the flag-lined streets of that tiny town in the Berkshire Mountains. I remember the empty grocery store shelves-duct tape, diapers, double A's, and Quaker oats on backorder. I remember sitting on the roof of the old orchard house to...
Platoon
A retrospective by Jonathan LighterAn epigraph like "'Rejoice O young man in thy youth...'-Ecclesiastes" must signpost a movie of unusual seriousness, and those words on a dead-black background form the opening shot of Platoon (1986), Oliver Stone's...
Powder Monkey
The powder monkey stares backacross the decades of time,from the decks of U.S.S. New Hampshirecoast of South Carolina, 1864,photographer unknown.War is not for boys, yetthere you stand,leaning with pride against a blackcannon on the deck of a union ship,serious-faced...
Preface: Collaborating with the Dead
Isaac P. Anderson, born 1836 near Philadelphia, fought for the Union between Augusts from 1861 to 1862. He was accused of desertion and detained in Washington DC from November 1863 until June 1864, considered to be an enemy of the state. He tells us...
Rendering War in Prismacolor: A Conversation with Richard Johnson
In late 2014, Richard Johnson embedded with U.S. Forces to "Draw the Drawdown" in Afghanistan. As the lead public affairs officer for the air wing at Bagram Airfield, I was thrilled to work with Rich. Between his trips to some of the smallest U.S. outposts...
Responding to the Effect of the Holocaust in the Present: A Comparison of Narrative Strategies in Time's Arrow, A Blessing on the Moon and the Reader
The narrative technique chosen by the author to generate trust in his or her reader may be as important to the message of the story as plot or character. This is especially true when the essence of the story is well-known and derived from historical...
Resurrection (A Fable)
So Bil ly uncorked it with his thumbs. It didn't make a pop. The champagne was dead. So it goes.-Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-FiveIn the after-silence, lit by a smoky cone of tactical light, the spent 5.56 caliber metal-cased bullet ascended from the...
Rupert Brooke and Isaac Rosenberg: Myth, Modernity, and the Destabilization of "Georgian War Poetry"
Modernism is the dominant literary category by which English literature of the early twentieth century has come to be defined. This critical trend, initiated by the Modernists themselves, has perpetuated the marginalization of non-Modernist literatures...
Sand Opera
Sand Opera. Philip Metres. Farmington: Alice James Books, 2015, $16.95, paper, 114 pp.Philip Metres's Sand Opera is a visually compelling book of poetry that envelops the reader in the space of war's victims. The victims of imprisonment, torture, and...
Sestina for Finn
I ain't agoing to tell al l that happened-it would ma ke me sick again if I was to do that. I wisht I hadn't ever come ashore that night, to see such things. I ain't ever going to get shut of them-lots of times I dream about them.-from Adventures of...
Signs
Many of my grandmother's errands on Saturday afternoons involved visits to frightening people.My eleven-year-old brother and I would climb on to the massive, marshmallowy front seat of her 1959 yellow-and-white Plymouth with the pushbutton transmission...
Sinjar
Masun was missing. Distant gunfire rattled us half-awake in the first haze of dawn and Ummi's screaming did the rest. She crouched over Masun's empty mat in the corner of the tent, and became instinctively hysterical. She dug her hands frantically through...
Sweeping
His root beer sweats on the Formica table.Her eyes fix on the frosty mug and the bubblesrise like little prayers she once sent up.The small apartment shrinks.She stands and walks toward the kitchenbut pauses in the doorway and turnsbecause nothing will...
Take What You Get
Reuben called in late February, he had a client in Omaha and could stay over one night. Jax got him a base pass and keyed him in."Fricking prison."They went out. After dinner, Jax told him about Ashley. "There's this girl. She's having a baby in April.""Your...
Theater of Cruelty: Art, Film, and the Shadows of War
Theater of Cruelty: Art, Film, and the Shadows of War. Ian Buruma. New York: New York Review Books, 2014, $29.95, hardcover, 423 pp.Theater of Cruelty: Art, Film, and the Shadows of War is a collection of 28 essays and reviews written by Ian Buruma and...
The Baron's Cloak A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution
The Baron's Cloak A History of The Russian Empire in War and Revolution. Willard Sunderland. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014, $35.00, hardcover, 344 pp.The power struggle which ensued from the collapse of the Russian Empire pitted those who wanted...
The Cave of Clay Urns
When I entered the room, Uncle Joe was lying in a hospital bed. The other bed was vacant, neatly tucked, squared away, and with its privacy curtains drawn back the open space gave me the feeling of just an ordinary family visit. My mom, his sister, was...
The Home Front Waste Land: Williams, Zukofsky, and Epistemology after Eliot
How will the dead bury their dead? -Louis ZukofskyIn the wake of World War One, or at least at the end of the first interval of world-wide war that has characterized lived experience since 1914, T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land (1922) happened to poetry...
The Hornet among Us
The Japanese giant hornet is not the largest insect in the world, but perhaps the most fierce. It can grow to two inches in length, with a wingspan of three. It has a brown thorax, and a yellow and brown striped abdomen. Its mandibles are jagged, lined...
The Last Campaign of John Brown's Body West Point and America's Forgotten Civil War Epic
In the spring of 1979, in a spare conference room, a fifty-year tradition at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, quietly came to an end. The English Department, revising its curriculum for the required freshman literature and...
The Lotus and the Storm
The Lotus and the Storm. Lan Cao. New York: Viking, 2014, $27.95, hardcover, 386 pp.Lan Cao's The Lotus and the Storm is a Vietnamese American war novel that focuses primarily on the traumas of the protagonist-daughter Mai and of her father Minh. The...
The New Heroism
"I don't have PTSD, but I g uess her thinking that I did is part of the weird pedestal vets are on now."Phil Klay, RedeploymentPhil Klay is half right. Vets are on a very weird pedestal now, but this pedestal is older than PTSD. Kathryn Bigelow, director...
The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War
The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War. Hew Strachan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014, $45.00, hardcover, 416 pp.This edition of the Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War is the revised edition released in 2014 during...
The Philosophy of War Films
The Philosophy of War Films. Ed. David LaRocca. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2014, $45.00, hardcover, 492 pp.War as a political event, a historical occurrence, a philosophical phenomenon, and a specific environment generated by humans...
The Spanish-American War as a Bourgeois Testing Ground: Richard Harding Davis, Frank Norris and Stephen Crane
The men who hurried into the ranks were not the debris of American life, were not the luckless, the idle. The scapegraces and vagabonds who could well have been spared, but the very flower of the race, young well born. The brief struggle was full of...
The War Reporter Paul Watson and the Boys in a Crater
full of water. Joy could be agonyfrom a certain angle. Wet clothes stickingto their bodies like cauls. Dead wires, bent pipesdangling from the apartment block behindsheared-off walls. Summertime in Aleppoand the blue sky is breezy. Blue waterfrom a blasted...
Uncle
You preferred to die alone,the nurse said, adjustingthe morphine.When I thanked you for the bookyou gave me on my sixthbirthday you were embarrassedand took a long gulp of beer,as if you were pouring yourselfinto the liquid.On car rides I would readit...
War Chatter-From Gathering Noise from My Life: A Camouflaged Memoir
This essay first appeared in 2011 in a shortened form in "Casualty," a Special Issue of The Massachusetts ReviewIn our home, there was plenty of aspirin and Vitamin C. Apples and turnips (and canned beets and peas) in the root cellar, a converted bomb...
Wars, near and Far
"I wasn't always an only child. I used to have an older sister but she ran away from home a few months after my older brother did. I have a younger brother too, but he got put away for people who are different. I miss him but not the other two."Jack...
What a Hammer Can Do
Our grandfather was a carpenter. A short man, shaped liked a barrel. When I visited him and my grandmother in the summer, I often found him at the workbench in his shop, a long, low outbuilding between his backyard and his garden. The shop always seemed...
Whitewashing WWII Sexual Memory
"Of course, there have always been camp followers and brothels, and soldiers have always got drunk and got laid; we k now from history about the licentious soldier y..." (Samuel Hynes, The Soldiers' Tale, 186).Sex is war's handmaiden, but apparently...
Women's/War Stories: The Female Gothic and Women's War Trauma in Helen Benedict's Sand Queen
The American war novel has traditionally registered issues of masculinity, individuality, brotherhood, trauma, and memory. As more American women serve on the front lines, the conventions of the American war novel may reconfigure to represent the issues...
You Are Not Forgotten: The Story of a Lost WWII Pilot and a Twenty-First Century Soldier's Mission to Bring Him Home
You Are Not Forgotten: The Story of a Lost WWII Pilot and a Twenty-First Century Soldier's Mission to Bring Him Home. Brian Bender. New York: Doubleday, 2013, $26.95, hardcover, 317 pp.More than 83,000 American servicemen are still missing from World...
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.