- Publisher: University of Chicago Press
- Format: Hardback | 272 pages
- Dimensions: 160mm x 234mm x 30mm | 544g
- Publication date: 5 July 2011
- Publication City/Country: Chicago, IL
- ISBN 10: 0226482537
- ISBN 13: 9780226482538
- Edition: 1
- Illustrations note: 20 halftones, 1 table
- Sales rank: 1,135,907
With US soldiers stationed around the world and engaged in multiple conflicts, Americans will be forced for the foreseeable future to come to terms with those permanently disabled in battle. At the moment, we accept rehabilitation as the proper social and cultural response to the wounded, swiftly returning injured combatants to their civilian lives. But this was not always the case, as Beth Linker reveals in her provocative new book, "War's Waste". Linker explains how, before entering World War I, the United States sought a way to avoid the enormous cost of providing injured soldiers with pensions, which it had done since the Revolutionary War. Emboldened by their faith in the new social and medical sciences, reformers pushed rehabilitation as a means to 'rebuild' disabled soldiers, relieving the nation of a monetary burden and easing the decision to enter the Great War. Linker's narrative moves from the professional development of orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists to the curative workshops, or hospital spaces where disabled soldiers learned how to repair automobiles as well as their own artificial limbs. The story culminates in the postwar establishment of the Veteran's Administration, one of the greatest legacies to come out of the First World War.
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Beth Linker is assistant professor in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania.
"This thoughtful, provocative, deeply researched, and beautifully written study shows how the US government took responsibility for soldiers who were physically injured and maimed in World War I, and why there was support for government intervention. Linker's answer, superbly dissected and presented, is that there was a brew of intersecting motives: from American ideals of masculinity, modernity, and militarism to work and self-reliance." (Rosemary A. Stevens, Weill Cornell Medical College)"