Loss and the grief that attends it are intrinsic to the experience of war and, as Damousi asserts, share its characteristics: ‘As in the wider conflict where loss is born, grief leaves no one unaffected by its devastation: like combat there is no space to retreat and take refuge from the havoc grief unleashes among those who give and those who receive the news of death’ (1999, p. 9). Jay Winter claims grief as the crucial experience through which individuals ‘lived the “meaning” of the First World War’, asserting that ‘for millions … [t]heir war was imprinted with the wrenching experience of loss’ (1995, p. 224).1 Alan Wilkinson poses the crucial question of that war: ‘[what] was it that persuaded a democracy to accept bereavement on such a scale’ (p. 150). This book extends that question beyond the First World War to consider also the experience and representation of loss and grief in the Second World War, the Vietnam War and the American War in Iraq. How, in each of these differing wartime cultures, does ‘the wrenching experience of loss’ at the private level engage with the public discourses that must, as Chomsky puts it, ‘manufacture consent’ to the inevitable massive bereavement that accompanies war.
KeywordsDominant Discourse Message Board Cultural Construction Private Experience Assumptive World
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