World War I
A Historical Exploration of Literature
by Eugene Edward Beiriger
November 2018, 238pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5434-7
$63, 53€, A90
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5435-4
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The First World War brought down the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, and Turkish empires and necessitated redrawing the maps of Europe, the Middle East, and the world.

Focusing on the war on the Western and Southern fronts and inclusive of material from all sides of the conflict, this book explores the novels and poems of significant soldier-writers alongside important contemporary historical documents.

The literary works of the First World War are one of the richest sources we have for understanding one of the twentieth century’s most significant conflicts. Not only do many of them have historical merit, but some were critically acclaimed by both contemporaries and subsequent scholars. For example, Henri Barbusse’s Under Fire, one of the earliest novels of the war, won accolades in France and the respect of war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen as well as novelists Erich Maria Remarque and Ernest Hemingway.

This book examines these works and those of war poets Rupert Brooke and John McCrae and others, providing context as well as opportunities to explore thematic elements with primary source documents, such as diaries, letters, memoirs, newspaper and journal articles, speeches, and government publications. It is unique in its use of literary and historical sources as mediums by which to both better understand the literature of the war and use literature to better understand the war itself.


  • Provides an overview of the First World War on the Western and Southern Fronts, allowing for a general understanding of the war and its effects on governments, armies, soldiers, and civilians
  • Explores historical topics ranging from the challenges of waging and sustaining the war to the nature and strains of trench and attritional warfare to the "lived experiences" of soldiers, volunteers, and civilian populations and the ways in which the war was memorialized
  • Discusses the significance of novels and poetry as a means to understand the war's challenges and complexities
  • Examines one of the earliest and most important war novels (Henri Barbusse's Under Fire), a work that influenced more well-known classics by Erich Maria Remarque and Ernest Hemingway, and the war poetry of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, also examined in this volume
  • Includes primary sources from some of the war's most significant writers, such as Vera Brittain, Rebecca West, Ernst Jünger, and Bertrand Russell as well as government documents, war propaganda, and material from some of the physicians who treated shell shock
Eugene Edward Beiriger is associate professor of history and distinguished honors professor at DePaul University. His other other works on the First World War include Churchill, Munitions and Mechanical Warfare: The Politics of Supply and Strategy and an article on "Building a Navy ‘Second to None’: The U.S. Naval Act of 1916, American Attitudes Toward Great Britain, and the First World War." He has received awards for teaching, mentorship, and service and is a member of the American Historical Association, the North American Conference on British Studies, and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Accept All Cookies | Decline.