Triumph of the Dead: American World War II Cemeteries, Monuments, and Diplomacy in France (War, Memory, and Culture) (Hardcover)
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An investigation into the relationship between history, art, architecture, memory, and diplomacy.
Between 1948 and 1956, the United States government planned an enormous project to build fourteen permanent overseas military cemeteries in Europe. These park-like burial grounds eventually would hold the graves of approximately 80,000 American soldiers and nurses who died during or immediately after World War II. Five of these cemeteries are located in France, more than any other nation: two in Normandy; one in Provence; and two in Lorraine.
In Triumph of the Dead: American World War II Cemeteries, Monuments, and Diplomacy in France, Kate Clarke Lemay explores the relationship between art, architecture, war memory, and Franco-American relations. She addresses the many functions, both original and more recent, that the American war cemeteries have performed, such as: war memorials, diplomatic gestures, Cold War political statements, prompts for debate about Franco-American relations, and the nature of French identity itself. Located on or near former battlefields, the American war cemeteries are at once history lessons, sites of memory, and commemorative monuments. As places of mourning, war cemeteries are considerably different than civic cemeteries in their rituals, designs, and influences on collective memory. As transatlantic sites, the cemeteries both construct and sustain an American memory of World War II for a Francophile and European audience.
The book features ten color photographs, fifty black and white photographs, and four maps. Scholars as well as enthusiasts of World War II history, mid-century art and architecture, and cultural diplomacy will be interested in reading this richly researched book, the first in-depth history of some of the most important sites of American World War II remembrance.

About the Author

Kate Clarke Lemay is a historian at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC. Her research honors include an IIE Fulbright research grant and two grants from the Terra Foundation in American Art.

Praise For…

"Impressively researched and with the keen eye of an art historian, Lemay’s analysis is nicely contextualized within the tangled layers of American, French, and Cold War political and cultural history. Triumph of the Dead was clearly a labor of love for Lemay and it shows."
—H-War, H-Net Reviews

[Triumph of the Dead is . . .] a richly researched book sound in its understanding of how commemorative monuments inform our collective memory."
—Journal of Military History

Overall, the book provides a much-needed starting-point for understanding these sites of contested history, which have for too long been overlooked in scholarship on cemeteries and public monuments. Lemay’s text has the potential to set into motion interesting discussions on the role of cemeteries as political apparatuses."
—Public Art Dialogue

“Triumph of the Dead
provides much needed information on post–WWII American military cemeteries in Europe, as well as the US agenda in postwar Europe in general.”
—Erika Doss, author of Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America

Product Details
ISBN: 9780817319816
ISBN-10: 0817319816
Publisher: University Alabama Press
Publication Date: September 25th, 2018
Pages: 232
Language: English
Series: War, Memory, and Culture