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Books, War

The Case of the Missing World War

02.06.12 | Comment?

I picked up John Keegan’s The First World War the other day. I read his book about World War II many years ago and enjoyed it, and though I’d learn a little more about The War to End All Wars.

As I was wandering around the bookstore with this doorstop under my arm, I got to thinkink about World War I and popular fiction. I’ve been reading a lot of traditional mysteries lately, and in may of them – especially those by Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd – the war looms large. These character’s lives are changed for ever by the war, and damaged by the things they’ve seen and done, sometimes beyond repair.

But I’ve also read a lot of mysteries that were written in and about Britain in the 1920s and 30s, by authors such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Philip Macdonald, John Dickson Carr, and others, and these books rarely if even mention the war.

Now, there were books such as Good-by To All That and, in Germany, All Quiet on the Western Front, but not much in the popular fiction of the day. My own guess is that the war was too sensitive a subject to be brought up in something as lightweight as mystery. But it’s interesting to me that so many writers essentially pretended that such a wrenching event that affected so many lives had never even happened.

How about you? Can any of you think of any contemporary references to the was that I’ve missed?

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