Remembering World War I in America


Remembering World War I in America

Kimberly J. Lamay Licursi

Studies in War, Society, and the Military Series

294 pages
4 illustrations, 4 tables, 2 appendixes, index


March 2018


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June 2023


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eBook (PDF)
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March 2018


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eBook (EPUB)
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March 2018


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About the Book

Poised to become a significant player in the new world order, the United States truly came of age during and after World War I. Yet many Americans think of the Great War simply as a precursor to World War II. Americans, including veterans, hastened to put experiences and memories of the war years behind them, reflecting a general apathy about the war that had developed during the 1920s and 1930s and never abated. 

In Remembering World War I in America Kimberly J. Lamay Licursi explores the American public’s collective memory and common perception of World War I by analyzing the extent to which it was expressed through the production of cultural artifacts related to the war. Through the analysis of four vectors of memory—war histories, memoirs, fiction, and film—Lamay Licursi shows that no consistent image or message about the war ever arose that resonated with a significant segment of the American population. Not many war histories materialized, war memoirs did not capture the public’s attention, and war novels and films presented a fictional war that either bore little resemblance to the doughboys’ experience or offered discordant views about what the war meant. In the end Americans emerged from the interwar years with limited pockets of public memory about the war that never found compromise in a dominant myth. 

Author Bio

Kimberly J. Lamay Licursi is an adjunct instructor of history at Siena College in New York. 


"By helping us to better understand today the historical obscurity of World War I in America, Lamay Licursi seeks to erase a past of erasure—to replace forgetting with remembering."—Trevor Dodman, First World War Studies

Remembering World War I in America furnishes some sound explanations for why America's second experience with total war—the Civil War being the first—one which saw the nation making an indispensable contribution to victory and emerging as a global power, found so little purchase in the imagination of its citizens.”—Robert Teigrob, American Historical Review

“Lamay Licursi’s useful work should be consulted by military, political, and social historians interested in America’s participation in World War I and the interwar years.”—Jeffery S. Underwood, Journal of American History

"This well-researched study gives weight to historians' common contention that Americans "simply wanted to forget the war.""—B. T. Browne, Choice

"Kimberly J. Lamay Licursi's Remembering World War I in America is a welcome addition to the growing scholarship on memory of the Great War."—Mark Folse, H-War

"An interesting and thoughtful look at how national memory is constructed."—A. A. Nofi, Strategy Page

"The author has done an impressive amount of research in compiling this study, and all those readers interested in how Americans once remembered the Great War will find much to enjoy in its pages."—Roger D. Cunningham, Journal of America’s Military Past

"Remembering World War I in America is most impressive in Licursi's extensive archival research on state histories and her investigations into the factual data of publishing figures."—David Rennie, American Literary Realism

“Kimberly Lamay Licursi explores with nuance and detail the American cultural memory of the Great War before 1941. Using understudied sources, such as pulp fiction and abandoned state history projects, she deftly shows how the act of ‘forgetting’ the war was based on remembering it in divergent ways. Fascinating and timely reading.”—Stephen R. Ortiz, professor of history at Binghamton University (SUNY) and author of Veterans’ Policies, Veterans’ Politics and Beyond the Bonus March and GI Bill

“I am impressed by the thoroughness with which Kimberly J. Lamay Licursi has combed through archival records related to state-level remembrance projects. And I admire (and regard as a model) the way she grounds her assertions about cultural influence in quantifiable specifics—in inventories of library holdings, recommendations in library journals, and the like.”—Steven K. Trout, professor of English at the University of South Alabama and author of On the Battlefield of Memory: The First World War and American Remembrance, 1919–1941

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    
1. State War Histories: An Atom of Interest in an Ocean of Apathy    
2. War Memoirs: They Pour from Presses Daily    
3. War Stories: Fiction Cannot Ignore the Greatest Adventure in a Man’s Life    
4. War Films: Shootin’ and Kissin’    
Appendix 1: Selected Bibliography of World War I Personal Narratives    
Appendix 2: Selected Bibliography of World War I Novels    

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