The Clergy in Khaki: New Perspectives on British Army Chaplaincy in the First World War

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-05-08
  • Publisher: Routledge

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Army chaplains have not fared well in the mythology of the Great War. Alongside Blimpish generals they are generally characterised as embodiments of the callous futility and hypocrisy that left the battlefields of the Western Front littered with corpses. Yet, as historians have begun to reassess the motives and performance of generals, so this collection offers a fresh reassessment of chaplains. Drawing on the expertise of sixteen academic researchers, the collection offers an unprecedented analysis of the subject from a multi-disciplinary perspective that embraces theology, sociology and textual criticism in addition to military, political, ecclesiastical, medical and imperial history. It also benefits from the professional insights of chaplains themselves; five of the contributors being serving or former members of the Royal Army Chaplain's Department. While not seeking to present a consensual verdict on the performance and role of British Army Chaplains in the First World War, the volume does provide a much fuller and more objective overview than his hitherto been available. It demonstrates that much of the post-war hostility towards chaplains was driven by political, social or even denominational agendas, and that critics often overlooked the positive contribution chaplains could make to the day-to-day struggles of soldiers trying to cope with the appalling realities of industrial warfare. As the most complete study of the subject to date, this collection will appeal to researchers in a broad range of academic disciplines, and marks a major advance in the historiography of the British Army, of the British churches and of British society during the First World War.

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