What Is a Military Memoir?



In this chapter, we define the sole form of text with which Bringing War to Book is concerned, the contemporary military memoir. We start by introducing the genre, and its twin goals of telling stories rooted in factual information about military participation, and presenting narratives which prioritise the individual, lived experience of that participation in texts which claim authenticity on the basis of the witnessing of events recounted. We continue this introduction by discussing the diversity of the genre and exploring the range of types of military memoir that our immersion in the genre has shown. We then outline three ideas which frame the social production of the military memoir and which thread through this book. These are the extent and limits of communicative possibility in these books, the role of paratext in these text-based accounts, and the way what we term ‘military literacy’ functions to help explain the journey so many individuals make, from military operative to published author. We conclude with an overview of the subsequent chapters, each framed by a specific question about military memoirs. In answering these questions, we show how accounts of war and military life in preparation for it, are both figuratively and literally brought to book.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Newcastle UniversityNewcastleUK

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