(Full review linked below)
Why do thousands of Americans spend their leisure time waging mock combat? How does America's long history of warfare impact its citizens? What does it mean to reenact war "authentically"? War Games explores these and many other questions as it takes readers into the heart of an American subculture whose thousands of members dress as GIs, Nazis, and the grunts of Vietnam and fight with each other over the many meanings of American wars.
It might come as a surprise to some people to learn that on any given weekend there are thousands of Americans who dress in uniforms, join their units, and come together to fight the wars of the past. While American Civil War reenactments are well known, reenactments of more recent wars, including World War II and Vietnam, are far less known to the public. In War Games, author Jenny Thompson takes readers on a hilarious, strange, and thought-provoking journey into this unique subculture.
Based on Thompson's interviews with reenactors, survey data, and seven years of fieldwork--Thompson donned uniforms and joined up with several units to find out for herself what reenacting was all about--War Games tells the stories of thousands of ordinary Americans, mostly men, who make war their hobby. From engaging in trench warfare in Pennsylvania to reenacting D-Day on Virginia Beach, Virginia, these reenactors celebrate, remember, and represent war by meticulously recreating the experiences of the common soldiers of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War.
Now available: War Games, Kindle Edition
War Games on Kindle
Frances Willard's A Classic Town: The Story of Evanston
Now Available: A new edition of the 1891 history, edited and with a new introduction by Jenny Thompson
"What Are the People Who Reenact 20th Century Wars Up to?" An essay about reenacting on the History News Network website
Thompson's H-War Review of Barbara G. Friedman's From the Battlefront to the Bridal Suite: Media Coverage of British War Brides, 1942-1946.