Dismantling Glory presents the most personal and
powerful words ever written about the horrors of battle, by the
very soldiers who put their lives on the line. Focusing on American
and English poetry from World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam
War, Lorrie Goldensohn, a poet and pacifist, affirms that by and
large, twentieth-century war poetry is fundamentally antiwar. She
examines the changing nature of the war lyric and takes on the
literary thinking of two countries separated by their common
World War I poets such as Wilfred Owen emphasized the role of
soldier as victim. By World War II, however, English and American
poets, influenced by the leftist politics of W. H. Auden, tended to
indict the whole of society, not just its leaders, for militarism.
During the Vietnam War, soldier poets accepted themselves as both
victims and perpetrators of war's misdeeds, writing a
nontraditional, more personally candid war poetry.
The book not only discusses the poetry of trench warfare but
also shows how the lives of civilians -- women and children in
particular -- entered a global war poetry dominated by air power,
invasion, and occupation. Goldensohn argues that World War II
blurred the boundaries between battleground and home front, thus
bringing women and civilians into war discourse as never before.
She discusses the interplay of fascination and disapproval in the
texts of twentieth-century war and notes the way in which homage to
war hero and victim contends with revulsion at war's horror and
In addition to placing the war lyric in literary and historical
context, the book discusses in detail individual poets such as
Wilfred Owen, W. H. Auden, Keith Douglas, Randall Jarrell, and a
group of poets from the Vietnam War, including W. D. Ehrhart, Bruce
Weigl, Yusef Komunyakaa, David Huddle, and Doug Anderson.
Dismantling Glory is an original and compelling look at
the way twentieth-century war poetry posited new relations between
masculinity and war, changed and complicated the representation of
war, and expanded the scope of antiwar thinking.