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Shell Shock: Traumatic Neurosis and the British Soldiers of the First World War Hardcover – September 21, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0333969267 ISBN-10: 033396926X

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (September 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033396926X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333969267
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,633,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...an interesting contribution both to medical history and to the continuing debate about...WWI."--T.L. Crosby, Choice

"Those willing to pay attention, however, will be rewarded by this first full-length treatment of Britian's 'shell shock' experience."--Maureen T. Moore, Journal of Military History

“Peter Leese’s book is intrinsically interesting. It fills a glaring gap in our historical knowledge.” —Mark Micale, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Shell shock was born as a condition in 1915 but has grown to become a metaphor for the horrors of total war. Leese tells the story of that evolution with learning, sympathy and a shrewd sense of the way medical history can illuminate our understanding of the violent twentieth-century as a whole.” —Professor Jay Winter, Department of History, Yale University

“One of the crucial and most moving episodes of twentieth century British history has now found its worthy historian. Peter Leese writes the story of shellshock with expertise and flair, with critical detachment and compassion. Avoiding judgmentalism, he brings out the full enormity of this tragic story.” —Professor Roy Porter, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London

About the Author

Peter Leese is Senior Lecturer in Social and Cultural History at the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Denise Battista on September 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book in 2011, granted using a gift card. Yes, it is expensive, but the information is invaluable to me as a professor who teaches WWI history, and the art it inspired. I couple this book with clips from the documentary, The Last Voices of WWI: A Generation Lost, and the two together encourage my students to view what happened 100 years ago just as passionately as if it were happening to their own generation. I do tend to gloss over the bits where Leese tries to tie industrialism in with shell shock, but only because he isn't always clear on the connection. This is a war that endured for 1500 days, drawn out by the over-incorporation of trench warfare, and made all the more horrific for those on the front line with the use of newly-mechanized artillery, tanks, and the proverbial "big guns" that terrorized the front lines and the soldiers in them, hence the effects of industrialism on the front lines and in the hearts of the soldiers. In this text, however, shell shock is the star, and Leese does a great job setting the stage, showing the reader the evolution of WWI-related shell shock dating back to the Battle of the Marne, just a month after the Brits entered the war in Aug. 1914, to modern day views and how shell shock is related to PTSD. Most interesting is what I like to call the "case studies", in which Leese includes medical overviews of specific cases, including symptoms and treatments of both soldiers and officers. There's great distinction laid out between treatment methods, and mention of past and current art and literature, such as Pat Barker's book, Regeneration, which focuses on a real life WWI officers' shell shock hospital in Scotland. Leese's book is engaging, heartbreaking, informative, relevant, well-written, enduring, and a great investment.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By a reader... on May 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
What is it with these publishers? A hundred and ten dollars for a 240 page book? And they sit in their stupid chair and wonder why no one purchases the book. The cycle continues, 'we have to charge a prohibitively expensive price because so few will purchase this speciality book'. Great. Price yourself right out of the market.

Additionally, I have to agree with another commenter. The cover bothers me. This is a photograph of a patient. I would assume part of a medical record, or was, at one time. He is so completely exposed and vulnerable, literally. While it is a compelling photograph that reveals symptomatology and the broad scope and intensity of suffering, and I would hope evokes a strong visceral response in the viewer, to use it as the cover is disrespectful to him and in poor taste. Sensibility, sensitivity, privacy (and I don't mean a knee jerk excessive HIPAA type variety of privacy, but of the private life) and sense of self, and I'm referring in all of these to him, and appropriateness and respect, and I'm referring to ours, are not superficial and meaningless dynamics, even across a hundred years of time. There are other photographs available to the publisher and the author that they could use I'm sure. The face of the sufferer as the focus; individuals in contexts, such as battlefield photographs, that are just as compelling, and in a style that have been used for other texts just as successfully. I would urge a different editorial choice for the paperback edition.
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