Paying With Their Bodies: American War And The Problem Of The Disabled Veteran

Paperback | September 9, 2016

byJohn M. Kinder

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Christian Bagge, an Iraq War veteran, lost both his legs in a roadside bomb attack on his Humvee in 2006. Months after the accident, outfitted with sleek new prosthetic legs, he jogged alongside President Bush for a photo op at the White House. The photograph served many functions, one of them being to revive faith in an American martial ideal—that war could be fought without permanent casualties, and that innovative technology could easily repair war’s damage. When Bagge was awarded his Purple Heart, however, military officials asked him to wear pants to the ceremony, saying that photos of the event should be “soft on the eyes.” Defiant, Bagge wore shorts.

America has grappled with the questions posed by injured veterans since its founding, and with particular force since the early twentieth century: What are the nation’s obligations to those who fight in its name? And when does war’s legacy of disability outweigh the nation’s interests at home and abroad? In Paying with Their Bodies, John M. Kinder traces the complicated, intertwined histories of war and disability in modern America. Focusing in particular on the decades surrounding World War I, he argues that disabled veterans have long been at the center of two competing visions of American war: one that highlights the relative safety of US military intervention overseas; the other indelibly associating American war with injury, mutilation, and suffering. Kinder brings disabled veterans to the center of the American war story and shows that when we do so, the history of American war over the last century begins to look very different. War can no longer be seen as a discrete experience, easily left behind; rather, its human legacies are felt for decades.

The first book to examine the history of American warfare through the lens of its troubled legacy of injury and disability, Paying with Their Bodies will force us to think anew about war and its painful costs.

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From the Publisher

Christian Bagge, an Iraq War veteran, lost both his legs in a roadside bomb attack on his Humvee in 2006. Months after the accident, outfitted with sleek new prosthetic legs, he jogged alongside President Bush for a photo op at the White House. The photograph served many functions, one of them being to revive faith in an American marti...

John M. Kinder is associate professor of American studies and history at Oklahoma State University.

other books by John M. Kinder

Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:September 9, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022642071X

ISBN - 13:9780226420714

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction

Part I. The Industrialization of Injury

Thomas H. Graham
1. “To Bind Up the Nation’s Wounds”: How the Disabled Veteran Became a Problem

Arthur Guy Empey
2. “The Horror for Which We Are Waiting”: Anxieties of Injury in World War I

Part II. The Aftermath of Battle

Elsie Ferguson in “Hero Land”
3. “Thinking Ahead of the Crippled Years”: Carrying On in an Age of Normalcy

Sunday at the Hippodrome
4. “The Cripple Ceases to Be”: The Rehabilitation Movement in Great War America

Part III. Mobilizing Injury

The Sweet Bill
5. “For the Living Dead I Work and Pray”: Veterans’ Groups and the Benefits of Buddyhood

Forget-Me-Not Day
6. “For the Mem’ry of Warriors Wracked with Pain”: Disabled Doughboys and American Memory

James M. Kirwin
7. “What Is Wrong with This Picture?” Disabled Veterans in Interwar Peace Culture

Part IV. Old Battles, New Wars

Harold Russell
8. “The Shining Plate of Prestige”: Disabled Veterans in the American Century

Tammy Duckworth
Epilogue: Toward a New Veteranology

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

Paying with Their Bodies is a fascinating, elegantly written, and tightly argued book. What is more, it presents provocative arguments about the consequences of war.”