Martial illusions: War and disillusionment in twentieth-century and Renaissance military memoirs

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Abstract

The twentieth century has witnessed a revolution in the image of war and of soldiers. The age-old romantic image of war has been discredited; war has increasingly been interpreted as a disillusioning experience; and the soldier has been at least partly transformed from hero to victim. This article examines the roots of this revolution, by comparing twentieth-century and Renaissance military memoirs. It argues that this revolution did not result from twentieth-century military or technological changes in the nature of war, but rather from cultural and mental changes in soldiers' self-perception and in their expectations of life, that occurred between 1600 and 1900.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)43-72
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Military History
Volume69
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2005

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