[BOOKS] ✪ What Soldiers Do By Mary Louise Roberts – Saudionline.co.uk


  • Hardcover
  • 368 pages
  • What Soldiers Do
  • Mary Louise Roberts
  • English
  • 08 July 2017
  • 9780226923093

10 thoughts on “What Soldiers Do

  1. says:

    Finished the book.Good things about the book 1 There is a lot of excellent documentation, especially from French sources The author clearly did a lot of research.2 There are a plethora of anecdotes anecdotal information is largely basis for the arguments in Chapters 1 through 6.3 There is excellent use of cartoons and photographs.4 The last two chapters, 7 and 8 really detail how tough it was to be African American in the United States Army in Europe and that Jim Crow laws held sway These are also the most thoroughly and objectively researched chapters and they are excellent.5 You get a feel for what life in the rear echelons was like 6 The author notes that the French were every bit as provincial perhaps so than Americans, particularly with regard to African Americans.7 Was venereal disease a problem Certainly She details that well.Not so good things 1 the book needs a bibliography.2 The author generalizes from anecdotes and her generalizations are often sweeping For instance, Countless Americans arrived in Normandy with the notion that France was a playground of easy women and loose morals 3 That Stars and Stripes was somehow an official policy organ SS was propagandistic yes, but most GIs certainly knew or suspected that But, it was the only news from home and it ran sports and pinup pictures and yes, shocker, guys saved the photos of Betty Grable and Does her assertion that the average Joe equated France with brothels and sex follow Hmmm, most, especially those doing the fighting were concerned about not taking a bullet.4 Numbers and statistics She noted that four million GIs passed through France, maybe most through La Harve She notes that 40% of GIs who contracted VD did so in Paris Okay, but what does that mean 4,000 40,000 , 400,000 Who knows On p 182 she notes that there were thousands of GIs in Le Harve in the summer of 1945 the war was over La Harve was a major debarkation point On the other hand, her numbers concerning prostitutes refer to 75 arrested in August 1945 Let s say 5% of the prostitutes were arrested if 75 represents 5% then there were 3000 to 4000 prostitutes see the problem here, you cannot gauge the extent.5 Scale of comparisons, the author speaks of 500 real or alleged rapes by American troops in Germany over a year or She also references the Pacific Wish she had read about the Rape of Nanking where the Imperial Japanese Army raped that many Chinese in a day or so and in 3 weeks did killing and raping than Americans did in all of World War II Too bad her specialty wasn t World War II in the Pacific theater.6 The author alleges that the German Wehrmacht raped extensively Certainly, there were problems on the Eastern Front, but if she had read Guy Sajer s excellent book, perhaps her assertion would be less sweeping.Other considerations 1 The author s specialty is France and gender issues She sees everything through this lens That is not necessarily bad we all see things through our own lens and we should acknowledge that.2 You have to look hard to note that prostitution was legal in France for 100 years by the time the author finally notes that.3 She puts considerable interpretation into a few photos and Maudlin cartoons I liked that But, to argue that Willie and Joe or one photo project American GI s as manly men is kind of a reach The author is than creative in her interpretation Look at any Maudlin cartoon You will normally see ragged, war weary American GI s To suggest that these men were presented as manly and arrogant is a reach, especially when that speculation is centered on one cartoon out of hundreds 4 The France that the Americans went into was not the France of DE Gaulle or the Free French It was Vichy France and led by Marshall Petain who collaborated with the Nazis There was no single French State in 1944 when the Americans went in There were thousands of trials of collaborators by localized resistance forces and many, perhaps thousands, were executed The severity of French resistance justice was extreme But, this also serves to point out that there was no effective centralized French government during the time frame this book covers.So, where does that leave me Well, conflicted Parts of the book, like the last two chapters, are exceptional The other chapters, not so much Does she prove the thesis stated in the intro This book, then, explores how sex was used to negotiate authority between the two nations While it addresses larger issues of international relations, its evidentiary approach is close to the ground, specifically, the Norman bocage where the GIs and French civilians got to know each other during the summer of 1944 No, not really Does she show that there was sex Yes Does she show that the Armed forces were abysmal on the issue of racism Yes Does she show the French could be guilty of the same or worse racism Yes Finally, the colonialist legacy is mentioned It is almost mandatory that that be done by some academics one way or another Does she let us know that both the French and Americans have an Imperialist legacy Yes But, even though Imperialism has a dark legacy, that is such old news.


  2. says:

    In the aftermath of D Day, American soldiers, who had been primed with messages that they were rescuers and would receive the thanks of the French people, encountered the reality of Norman peasants who had been bombed by the allies, exploited by the Nazis and stripped of their male population most of whom were in slave labor camps elsewhere, and had been for several years Voila A perceived population of lazy, dirty, sex crazy women whose men were too weak to defend them, and who owed the US Some US commanders attempted to engage the local established system of supervised prostitution, but no one wanted to admit it was actually happening, so VD rates skyrocketed, as did exploitation and abuse Once the French government regrouped, complaints about the situation led the US to shift blame to black soldiers, several dozen of whom were hanged For anyone familiar with the culture in which bros believe they re entitled, this is not a shocking outcome, and neither are the screeching criticisms of the author, who is charged with being mean to Stephen Ambrose.


  3. says:

    Very interesting book and topic, and one that is often ignored by military historians.I particularly enjoyed the research on French civilians and how other historians and veterans have described Normans and the French in general as sullen, laconic, lazy, and ungrateful Dr Roberts uses local newspapers and diaries to describe why the French were this way they had been under the Nazi yoke for four years, with family and friends either dead, missing, or imprisoned By summer 1944, these same people had been bombed for months, shelled for weeks, and now their backyards were battlefields Add to this that most Normans calorie intake had been severely restricted by the German occupying forces, and no wonder the French were seen and described as they were I also enjoyed the chapters on African American soldiers being routinely and disproportionately accused and convicted of rape This sad chapter in U.S military history needs a brighter spotlight.However, I don t agree with the author s premise that there was some grand propaganda effort by the War Department to sell the liberation of France as a big sex party, propagated in the pages of the Stars and Stripes To be sure, France did and does have a reputation of being liberated when it came to sex, but these tales were largely told to WWII soldiers by their doughboy and devildog fathers and uncles, not as government propaganda A Bill Mauldin cartoon and one Army Signal photograph do not a propaganda effort make Stars and Stripes was not held in high regard by the rank and file, although it was an important and sometimes only source of news, most soldiers knew it was what the War Department wanted them to read I have letters to my grandmother from her brother, my great uncle, where he talks about the Stars and Stripes As he was on the move through Normandy,He felt it suitable to use for toilet paper in the field So that s what he thought about it.There are plenty of reviews on that summarize my other feelings on the book, and why it only receives 3 stars I don t think the book is a complete waste, and it s worth reading if you have an interest in World War II France.


  4. says:

    Like so many academic works these days, What is inherently frustrating not due to a paucity of coverage or nuance, but because of the lame framework in which the facts are presented Instead of just writing a history of how shitty American soldiers acted in France and the role of sex during the war, this is all instead presented under the umbrella of a silly theoretical framework that avers such nonsensical things like the sexual exploitation of French women allowed the US military to test out the new gears of its global authority.Come on.This is the flaw in much academic writing, sadly, this use of categories and terms impressed unnecessarily and most importantly for a work of history, unprovable except by creative teasing from without To be sure, there was a gross sexualization of the war, but who would say with a straight face that this was a tool of the imperial Rooseveltian White House to emasculate Frenchmen and hypersexualize Frenchwomen Come on.Soldiers behave badly because of their own context War fucking sucks and is hard on the old psyche No wonder folks go insane and do all kinds of horrible shit to other people It s war Overall, though, as far as its reporting, a fine book Good bits on prostitution s role as well, and the US s responses to it, often awkward, sometimes hilarious taxpayer paid brothels A wan section on the role of race in this same theater.


  5. says:

    Garbage, hate it It s a intellectual laziness man hating book


  6. says:

    Extremely well researched book about the polito sexual elements in Invasion era France, the role and influence of sex and sexual relations in promoting the invasion and the impact on the French and the American soldiers in post invasion France Fascinating in it s detail and for showing another facet a rather important one of the experience of WWII for this region Valuable for we who are simple interested by the War, and, I should think, very informative for those family of Soldiers and Norman citizens of that time and place Also, this study provides a worthy insight into the situation facing our 19 year old conscripts from ancient Sparta to today.Be prepared to see the very much rougher side of the Heroic Effort and the leadership of SHAEF and the actual experience of the French and the Band of Brothers And this book will sadden as it details the SHAEF effort to make rape a Black crime rather than actually investigate the truth lynching black soldiers with the excuse of the fog of war , so as to protect the image of our boys back home.


  7. says:

    Sexuality was used as propaganda tool to get Americans to enroll in the Army and fight in Europe in WWII.The book gives a new perspective to La Lib ration of France by the US Army in the Second World War, 1944 to 1945, looking at it from a sexual point of view It is not an easy read, so bear with it The author has an extensive bibliography of personal letters of soldiers and Army officials, French local authorities and the press.Interesting link between rape and the black GI prejudices as well This makes us look differently at the romantic and heroic image of the US Army than we were used to.


  8. says:

    Outstanding A comprehensive analysis of a neglected story the misconduct of American soldiers during the liberation of France Sexual offenses by the troops were common and the Army unjustly persecuted black troops as a public relations stunt to deflect criticism There were constant tensions between the French and Americans, and the sexual predation by Americans would poison relationships between the two countries for decades to come A full review of this book will be forthcoming in my blog at


  9. says:

    Must read for any WWII buff.The archival work that went into researching this book is astonishing.


  10. says:

    Overall a good book, although some of her arguments seem pretty thin Give her credit for question the golden boy myth of the American GI during WWII.


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What Soldiers Do characters What Soldiers Do , audiobook What Soldiers Do , files book What Soldiers Do , today What Soldiers Do , What Soldiers Do 3ea4d How Do You Convince Men To Charge Across Heavily Mined Beaches Into Deadly Machine Gun Fire Do You Appeal To Their Bonds With Their Fellow Soldiers, Their Patriotism, Their Desire To End Tyranny And Mass Murder Certainly But If You Re The US Army In , You Also Try Another Tack You Dangle The Lure Of Beautiful French Women, Waiting Just On The Other Side Of The Wire, Ready To Reward Their Liberators In Oh So Many WaysThat S Not The Picture Of The Greatest Generation That We Ve Been Given, But It S The One Mary Louise Roberts Paints To Devastating Effect In What Soldiers Do Drawing On An Incredible Range Of Sources, Including News Reports, Propaganda And Training Materials, Official Planning Documents, Wartime Diaries, And Memoirs, Roberts Tells The Fascinating And Troubling Story Of How The US Military Command Systematically Spread And Then Exploited The Myth Of French Women As Sexually Experienced And Available The Resulting Chaos Ranging From Flagrant Public Sex With Prostitutes To Outright Rape And Rampant Venereal Disease Horrified The War Weary And Demoralized French Population The Sexual Predation, And The Blithe Response Of The American Military Leadership, Also Caused Serious Friction Between The Two Nations Just As They Were Attempting To Settle Questions Of Long Term Control Over The Liberated Territories And The Restoration Of French Sovereignty While Never Denying The Achievement Of D Day, Or The Bravery Of The Soldiers Who Took Part, What Soldiers Do Reminds Us That History Is Always Useful And Interesting When It Is Most Honest, And When It Goes Beyond The Burnished Beauty Of Nostalgia To Grapple With The Real Lives And Real Mistakes Of The People Who Lived It


About the Author: Mary Louise Roberts

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