Joanna Bourke evaluation

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  • Critically evaluate Joanna Bourkes book.
    • Women
      • She focusses on women as equally as men.
        • Women are willing to join in with the thrill of destruction as men.
        • She rejects the notion women are peaceful and shy away from killing.
        • Claims women's engagement may have added to mans satisfaction in killing.
        • Uses Flora Sandes - fulfilled as a soldier - misses it.
          • No extended considerationa woman warrior emerges in her book. She is limited to Flora.
            • Its the only account and it lacks detail.  There are no other examples of a woman fierceness - instead the chapter focuses on desire, anti aircraft barriers and debates about arming women. - limited in her argument - more evidence required.
    • Positives.
      • Large number of personal accounts used, from different angles and lots of supporting evidence. Huge range of private memoirs, interviews.
        • What extent were letters/ public documents unbiased - said things to make them appear braver?
      • Revigorates historical debate - a fresh new look.
    • Weaknesses
      • She distances herself away from the events she presents, fails to connect to the material weakening believability and the argument. Highly detailed but shallow observations.
      • She describes herself as a social feminist (welfare of women), she was not bought up in the West, parents were christian missionaries, she's specialises in history of emotion, sexual violence - not war.
        • A woman, can they truly understand a mans thinking? rebellion away from repressive Christian life.Can she understand Western thought?Is he argument skewed to her politics? A jab at men?
      • Written hurriedly and rather glib.
      • Weaker in the middle section about WW1/2, V. Lacks a non western perspective which looses the comparative discussion.
        • Britain/ USA did not fight on their own soil - USSR and Italy did, bringing examples of them into the discussion would have weighted it.
      • She judges the past on the emotional/physiological thoughts of the 1990s - in the past there were different social conditions.
        • Does not grasp the fact that society changed drastically from 1914 - 1975 (sixties e.g.)
          • She does not grasp why Vietnam literature is full of bitter disillusionment that was not found in records of WW2. - perhaps a greater consideration of media portals would be useful.
      • The LT Carly example is noted that it was not typical to Vietnam and normal circumstances - it is an anomile.


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