Bibliographic Essay Example by ykg75146

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									Bibliographic Essay Example
Never Too Young: Recent Approaches to the History of
Children and War
By
James Marten
        In Children of War (1983), Roger Rosenblatt described the ways that the children he met
in the Middle East, Ireland, and Cambodia confronted war, from their attitudes about the
"enemy" to their attempts to work their experiences with conflict into their everyday lives.
Rosenblatt is a journalist and essayist, but his discovery that war affects children in unique and
sometimes surprising ways has been a useful inspiration if not a model, exactly for historians
who, in the two decades since Rosenblatt's book appeared, have examined the experiences of
children in times of war.

        Historical fields often become "hot" because of events outside the profession. I'm
personally convinced that the growth of the field of children's history stems directly from baby
boomers' obsession with their own childhoods and by their experiences as parents but that may
say more about me than about the rest of you! Unfortunately, it is undeniable that the study of
the participation of children in war is at least in part inspired by the tragic effects of war on
children in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries and the growing awareness over the last
decade or two of the use of child soldiers in countless conflicts around the globe.

        Although it won't be limited to books on the experiences of under-age soldiers, this brief
essay will introduce a number of fairly recent books that attempt to understand the ways that
wars have directly affected the lives of children, as well as the ways that children have been
integrated into the larger efforts by nations and societies to mobilize for war and to influence
children's patriotism and responses to war. Scholars have shown that, in both cases, some
children have been the unwilling pawns of adults, while others have been enthusiastic warriors
and eager consumers of martial imagery in their own right. This is only a sampling, shaped
largely by my own personal interests and expertise, but it is a starting point for anyone interested
in the history of children and armed conflict. Many of the most affecting accounts of wartime
childhoods are of young boys who are forced or who choose to participate as soldiers. At one
end of the spectrum of books is the amateurish but useful Callow, Brave, and True: A Gospel of
Civil War Youth (1999), in which Jay Hoar celebrates the bravery and sacrifices of the drummer
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boys and underage soldiers who fought in the American Civil War. At the other end is Ian
Brown's Khomeini's Forgotten Sons: The Story of Iran's Boy Soldiers (1990), which describes
the hopeless, wasted lives of the teenaged Iranians held as prisoners of war by the Iraqis in the
1980s. Aside from recent news stories on the use and abuse of child soldiers by revolutionary
and state sponsored armies in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, this is the most understudied
facet of children and war, at least by historians.

        But journalists and advocates have tackled the issue. Laura A. Barnitz's Child Soldiers:
Youth Who Participate in Armed Conflict (1997) is a useful summary of the employment of
300,000 child soldiers throughout the world, while Child Soldiers: A Study on Behalf of the
Henry Dunant Institute, Geneva (1994), by Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, examines the failure of laws
protecting children from military service and abuse by the military. Janet Fleischmann has edited
a long pamphlet for Human Rights Watch that focuses on one of the countries in which the use
of child soldiers has been most prevalent and most reported: Easy Prey: Child Soldiers in Liberia
(1994). Human Rights Watch has also published a more detailed examination of child soldiers in
Burma, where observers believe more youngsters are recruited or forced into the army than in
any other country; see My Gun Was as Tall as Me: Child Soldiers in Burma (2002). ).

         Perhaps the most stunning victimization of children in any war of the 20th century was
the murder of 1.5 million Jewish youngsters in Nazi concentration camps. Drawing on diaries,
drawings, and oral histories, Deborah Dwork's Children with a Star: Jewish Youth in Nazi
Europe (1991), shows how Jewish children fought to retain some sense of their humanity amid a
catalog of abuses and humiliations. Similarly, Children and Play in the Holocaust: Games
among the Shadows (1988), by George Eisen, shows that even in the worst conditions children
are still children, going so far as to invent games that revolve around the harsh conditions in
concentration camps. Richard C. Lukas goes beyond the Jewish victims of the Second World
War to examine the ways that German occupation affected all Polish children in Did the
Children Cry?: Hitler's War Against Jewish and Polish Children, 1939-1945 (1994, 2001).

        A very different sort of victimhood emerged in Britain, at least according to recent
publications. Although the evacuation of children from London and other British cities during
the Second World War has become a part of the legend of English pluck and determination
between 1939 and 1945, historians have recently criticized the policy. Foremost among them are
Martin Parsons and Penny Starns, who, in Evacuation: The True Story (1999) and other books
and articles, have challenged conventional views. They suggest that political considerations
weighed heavier than humanitarian concerns and, through interviews with survivors, chronicle
the danger, hardships, and potential abuse to which the children were exposed.

        A few books have explored the ways in which children adapt war to their own needs.
William M. Tuttle, Jr., takes a developmental approach in Daddy's Gone to War: The Second
World War in the Lives of America's Children (1995). Tuttle includes all of the home front
activities that we would expect in a book like this scrap drives, comic books, etc. but also
sensitively explores the way the war affected family dynamics and the ways that children and
youth of different ages reacted to war. Useful introductions to the experiences of children during
the Second World War are: Jay Kirk, Earning Their Stripes: The Mobilization of American
Children in the Second World War (1994); Mike Brown, A Child's War: The Home Front, 1939-
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1945 (2000 on Britain); and Emmy E. Werner, Through the Eyes of Innocents: Children
Witness World War II (2000).

       My own The Children's Civil War (1998), while relying less on social science insights
than Tuttle, also attempts to show a wide spectrum of ways in which northern and southern
children, black as well as white, were affected by and chose to participate in the war efforts of
the Union and the Confederacy. Two other books on Civil War children are more descriptive
although, unlike my book, theirs include drummer boys and underage soldiers: Emmy E.
Werner, Reluctant Witnesses: Children's Voices from the Civil War (1999) and Scotti Cohn,
Beyond Their Years: Stories of Sixteen Civil War Children (2003).

        Although studies of the long-term impact of war on child survivors necessarily tend to
appear in journals published by social scientists, a few books provide useful introductions.
Roberta J. Apfel and Bennett Simon, eds., Minefields in Their Hearts: The Mental Health of
Children in War and Communal Violence (1996) includes articles on post-traumatic stress,
refugees, and other issues related to children in recent conflicts. Another book-length study on
war trauma is Cole P. Dodge and Magne Raundalen, Reaching Children in War: Sudan, Uganda,
and Mozambique (1991). Irish social scientists have disagreed on the effects of the "troubles" in
children in Northern Ireland; M. Fraser, in Children in Conflict (1973), finds evidence of
significant trauma, while a volume edited by J. J. Harbison, Children of the Troubles: Children
in Northern Ireland (1983), suggests the opposite.

         At one level, the historiography of children and war reflects similar concerns as the
historiography of children in peacetime, including education, relationships to government and
child welfare institutions, childrearing, health, and popular culture. Wars sometimes inspire
nations to question basic assumptions and values; in other cases, the expansion of government
power that inevitably accompanies mobilization for war can lead to the formation of institutions
and government agencies that provide the impetus for "reforming" the lives of children for good
or ill. For instance, Susan Pedersen, in Family, Dependence, and the Origins of the Welfare
State: Britain and France, 1914-1945 (1993) places the two world wars in the contexts of
feminism, trade unions, and economic development to explain the creation of government social
welfare programs, especially those aimed at aiding children. See also Deborah Dwork's War is
Good for Babies and Other Young Children: A History of the Infant and Child Welfare
Movement in England, 1898-1918 (1987).

         The unique experiences of children living in France during the Second World War has
inspired two very different books. W. D. Halls, The Youth of Vichy France (1997) examines
efforts to help French youth adjust to the realities of defeat and of cooperation with the Nazis. A
more positive portrayal of the effects of Vichy policies appears in Sarah Fishman's The Battle for
Children: World War II, Youth Crime, and Juvenile Justice in Twentieth Century France (2001)
which argues that wartime conditions led officials in the Vichy criminal justice system to see
juvenile delinquents as victims rather than criminals, inspiring a change to a therapeutic rather
than punitive model for dealing with youngsters.

      While a number of books and articles have detailed the experiences of Japanese-
Americans interned during the Second World War, the specific experiences of children have not
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been covered until recently. Karen Lea Riley's Schools Behind Barbed Wire: The Untold Story of
Wartime Internment and the Children of Arrested Enemy Aliens (2001) tells the story of the
Crystal City (Texas) Family Internment Camp, specifically the ways in which the children of the
Japanese, German, and even Latin American enemy aliens confined to the camp were educated.

        Another genre of children and war studies examine the ways that societies try to pass
along the lessons learned in war or, conversely, attempt in subtle as well as more manipulative
ways to prepare children for future wars. Recent books in this category are: Alan Penn,
Targetting Schools: Drill, Militarism and Imperialism (1999); Stephen Stephen Heathorn, For
Home, Country, and Race: Constructing Class, Gender and Englishness in the Elementary
Classroom (2000 on Great Britain); Lisa A. Kirschenbaum, Small Comrades: Revolutionizing
Childhood in Soviet Russa, 1917-1932 (2000); and Thomas Davey, A Generation Divided:
German Children and the Berlin Wall (1987)

        Although this short essay has focused on books, a useful starting point for information on
children and war are the essays I've compiled in Children and War: A Historical Anthology
(2002). The mixture of nearly two dozen recent PhDs and senior scholars from around the world
who contributed to the anthology introduce a wide variety of topics under-represented in the
monographic literature, including children in Latin America, Asia, and among indigenous
cultures. The essays cover nearly two hundred years of children and war.

         Finally number of recent dissertations that have not yet found their way into print add to
our knowledge of the effects of war on children especially how war shapes educational
institutions. They include: Benita Blessing, "The Antifascist Classroom: Education in the Soviet
Zone of Germany 1945-49" (Wisconsin, 2000); Andy Dotson, "War-Pedagogy and Youth
Culture: Nationalism and Authority in Germany in the First World War" (Michigan, 2000);
Barbara Fox, "Rejuvenating France: The Creation of a National Youth Culture After The Great
War" (Massachusetts, 2002); Stephen E. Lewis, "Revolution and the Rural Schoolhouse: Forging
State and Nation in Chiapas, Mexico, 1913-1946" (UC-San Diego, 1997); and Mary Niall
Mitchell, "Raising Freedom's Child: Race, Nation, and the Lives of Black Children in 19th-
Century Louisiana" (NYU, 2001).

								
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