The War Come Home

Winner of the 2002 Allan Sharlin Prize, awarded by the Social Science History Association.  

Disabled veterans were the First World War's most conspicuous legacy.  Nearly eight million men in Europe returned from the First World War permanently disabled by injury or disease.  In The War Come Home, Deborah Cohen offers a comparative analysis of the very different ways in which two belligerent nations--Germany and Britain--cared for their disabled.

At the heart of this book is an apparent paradox.  Although postwar Germany provided its disabled veterans with generous benefits, they came to despise the state that favored them. Disabled men proved susceptible to the Nazi cause.  By contrast, British ex-servicemen remained loyal subjects, though they received only meager material compensation.  Cohen explores the meaning of this paradox by focusing on the interplay between state agencies and private philanthropies on one hand, and the evolving relationship between disabled men and the general public on the other. 

Written with verve and compassion, The War Come Home describes in affecting detail disabled veterans' lives and their treatment at the hands of government agencies and private charities in Britain and Germany.  Cohen's study moves from the intimate confines of veterans' homes to the offices of high-level bureaucrats; she tells of veterans' protests, of disabled men's families, and of the well-heeled philanthropists who made a cause of the war's victims.  This superbly researched book provides an important new perspective on the ways in which states and societies confront the consequences of industrialized warfare.