Cover: Your Death Would Be Mine: Paul and Marie Pireaud in the Great War, from Harvard University PressCover: Your Death Would Be Mine in PAPERBACK

Your Death Would Be Mine

Paul and Marie Pireaud in the Great War

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$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674030510

Publication Date: 12/15/2008


352 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

6 halftones, 3 maps


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A vivid picture of the Great War seen from below which illustrates the view, popular now for a generation or so, that it is not events but people who make history… Most of all, Hanna is struck by the way Marie and Paul reflect the modernizing impact of the war on the rural psyche… The practice of writing letters stimulated self-reflection and self-awareness and left both husband and wife better able to communicate with each other. The postwar transformation of rural France was made possible by this enforced wartime correspondence course in self-discovery.—David Coward, London Review of Books

[Paul and Marie Pireaud’s] letters are a remarkable source for observing World War I from the vantage point of the French peasantry, for analyzing the impact of the conflict on rural France, and for resurrecting the human face of war. Drawing on hundreds of letters, Hanna offers a fascinating look at one peasant couple separated and in love, compelled to carry on their marriage by correspondence.—George Cohen, Booklist (starred review)

Martha Hanna achieves the remarkable feat of connecting the lives of two people to the events of a world war. This accomplishment is all the more impressive for her ability to never lose sight of either the small or big picture. This deftly written and elegantly crafted book reminds us of how war deeply affects everyone, from the front line to the home front.—Michael S. Neiberg, author of Fighting the Great War

We have any number of collections of letters from soldiers of the Great War, but none that comprises letters from both spouses. This allows Hanna to illuminate the relationship between the front and the interior in a unique way. Her work is an important contribution to our understanding of how the French fought the Great War in separate spheres, but as a people. Most of all, however, Hanna brings to life two extremely interesting individuals. She has empathy with her subjects, but never condescends toward them. I recommend this very fine book with great enthusiasm.—Leonard V. Smith, author of Between Mutiny and Obedience

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