Dying for France: Experiencing and Representing the Soldier’s Death, 1500–2000 (McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas #87) (Hardcover)

Dying for France: Experiencing and Representing the Soldier’s Death, 1500–2000 (McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas #87) By Ian Germani Cover Image

Dying for France: Experiencing and Representing the Soldier’s Death, 1500–2000 (McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas #87) (Hardcover)


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In the past century Western attitudes toward the soldier’s death have undergone a remarkable transformation. Widely accepted at the time of the First World War – when nearly ten million soldiers died in uniform – as a redemptive sacrifice on behalf of the nation, the soldier’s death is increasingly regarded as an unacceptable tragedy. In Dying for France Ian Germani considers this transformation in the context of the history of France over the expanse of five centuries, from the Renaissance to the present. Blending military history with the history of culture and mentalities, Germani explores key episodes in the history of France’s wars to show how patriotic models of the soldier’s death eclipsed those inspired by the aristocratic code of honour, before themselves giving way to disillusioned representations. First-hand testimony of soldiers, surgeons, and others provides the basis for vivid descriptions of how a soldier encountered death, on and away from the battlefield. Works of art and print culture are used to analyze how soldiers’ deaths were represented to the public and to discern how popular attitudes evolved over time. Encompassing France’s major external conflicts and its civil wars, this study also considers the experiences of soldiers recruited from the French colonial empire. Relating changes in the perception of military mortality to broader changes in society’s relationship with death, Dying for France highlights essential turning points in the rise and fall of the patriotic ideal of the soldier’s death.
Ian Germani is professor emeritus of history at the University of Regina.
Product Details ISBN: 9780228016359
ISBN-10: 0228016355
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Publication Date: March 15th, 2023
Pages: 520
Language: English
Series: McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas
“A very impressive and ambitious project, Dying for France makes a distinctive contribution to the vibrant and expanding field of the cultural history of war.” Alan Forrest, University of York and author of The Death of the French Atlantic: Trade, War, and Slavery in the Age of Revolution

“Dying for France engages creatively with an impressively wide range of literature dealing not simply with the history of warfare but with five centuries of French political, social, and cultural history. Thoughtful, thought-provoking, and often moving, the book expands beyond an ostensibly narrow theme, the death of the soldier, to reflect upon a far wider range of developments in the historical study of French conflict.” Joseph Clarke, Trinity College Dublin and author of Commemorating the Dead in Revolutionary France: Revolution and Remembrance, 1789–1799

“Ian Germani convincingly and compellingly links military developments to concepts of culture, memory, and an explanation of what soldiers fought for and why they died – this is an important and necessary addition to the study of military history.” David A. Messenger, University of South Alabama and author of War and Public Memory: Case Studies in Twentieth-Century Europe