The experiences of World War I touched the lives of a generation but memories of this momentous experience vary enormously throughout the world. In Britain, there was a strong reaction against militarism but in the Dominion powers of Canada, Australia and New Zealand the response was very different. For these former colonial powers, the experience of war was largely accepted as a national rite of passage and their pride and respect for their soldiers' sacrifices found its focus in a powerful nationalist drive. How did a single, supposedly shared experience provoke such contrasting reactions? What does it reveal about earlier, pre-existing ideas of national identity? And how did the memory of war influence later ideas of self-determination and nationhood? "Altered Memories of the Great War" is the first book to compare the distinctive collective narratives that emerged within Britain and the Dominions in response to World War I. It powerfully illuminates the differences as well as the similarities between different memories of war and offers fascinating insights into what this reveals about developing concepts of national identity in the aftermath of World War I.
Mark Sheftall is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Duke University, North Carolina, United States. He specialises in the history of Britain and the Dominions, especially their military and cultural history.