Paying With Their Bodies: American War and the Problem of the Disabled Veteran

Univ. of Chicago. Apr. 2015. 400p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780226210094. $30. SOC SCI
Throughout this book, Kinder (history, American studies, Oklahoma State Univ.) capitalizes the "Problem of the Disabled Veteran" to highlight the enduring nature of the question of how Americans should think about veterans who return home permanently damaged in body or mind. His ambitious history begins with the Civil War's aftermath and ends with our current wars, but some two-thirds of the text is devoted to World War I, when more than 900,000 American service personnel applied for disability benefits and a Veterans' Bureau was established to address casualty on that scale. While attitudes toward disabled veterans shift over time, Kinder sees two persistent, competing "fantasies": that warfare can be conducted safely and that Americans will abandon war owing to its bodily risks. He also sees a persistent failure to learn from mistakes, resulting, despite progress in battlefield medicine and postwar rehabilitation, in a consistent pattern of neglect.
VERDICT Kinder's own antiwar opinions are evident throughout his work, which some readers may feel detracts from its value. All readers will agree, however, that the author's research is valuable, although some might prefer Beth Linker's more focused War's Waste.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing