Useful Captives: The Role of POWs in American Military Conflicts is a wide-ranging investigation of the integral role prisoners of war (POWs) have played in the economic, cultural, political, and military aspects of American warfare. In Useful Captives volume editors Daniel Krebs and Lorien Foote and their contributors explore the wide range of roles that captives play in times of conflict: hostages used to negotiate vital points of contention between combatants, consumers, laborers, propaganda tools, objects of indoctrination, proof of military success, symbols, political instruments, exemplars of manhood ideals, loyal and disloyal soldiers, and agents of change in society.
The book’s eleven chapters cover conflicts involving Americans, ranging from colonial warfare on the Creek-Georgia border in the late eighteenth century, the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great War, World War II, to twenty-first century U.S. drone warfare. This long historical horizon enables the reader to go beyond the prison camp experience of POWs to better understand the many ways they influence the nature and course of military conflict.
Useful Captives shows the vital role that prisoners of war play in American warfare and reveals the cultural contexts of warfare, the shaping and altering of military policies, the process of state-building, the impacts upon the economy and environment of the conflict zone, their special place in propaganda and political symbolism, and the importance of public history in shaping national memory.
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