An Intimate History Of Killing

Face-To-Face Killing In Twentieth-Century Warfare

Joanna Bourke

Published: 6 March 2000
Paperback, B Format
127x197mm, 576 pages
ISBN: 9781862073210


It is almost universally accepted among writers on warfare that battle is a terrible experience, and that men who fight are at the very least sobered, and often deeply traumatized, by the horrors of combat. Bourke uses the letters, diaries, memoirs and reports of veterans from three conflicts - the First World War, the Second World War and the Vietnam War - to establish a picture of the man-at-arms. She suggests that the structure of war encourages pleasure in killing, and that perfectly ordinary, gentle human beings can become enthusiastic killers without becoming 'brutalized'. Bourke forces the reader to face some disconcerting truths about societies that can so easliy organize themselves for war.

About the author

Image of Joanna Bourke

Joanna Bourke is a Professor of History at Birkbeck College, London. Her books include Dismembering the Male: Men's Bodies, Britain and the Great War and Rape: Sex, Violence, History. An Intimate History of Killing: Face-to-Face Killing in Twentieth-Century Warfare was awarded the 1998 Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History and the Wolfson History Prize. She lives in London. More about the author

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