Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family

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My friends and I would "shoot" at each other and, every now and then, fall down and pretend to be dead, only to miraculously arise a few seconds later to fight again. Little did we realize how far removed our antics were from the actual horrors of battle. I wanted to better understand what the war meant for fathers and their families.

The project began as a sequel of sorts to a book I had written on the history of fatherhood during the Machine Age Quickly, however, the venture expanded to include a lot more than this. The conversations I had with my parents about the war did little to prepare me for the heart-wrenching and heartwarming stories I came across.

What stood out were both the magnitude of the conflict and the enormity of its reach. My parents' war was not a confrontation that touched only a fraction of the population while the rest of the country remained largely unscathed. Rather, as its name implies, World War II was a full-scale conflagration, the consequences of which are still being felt.

Central to understanding World War II was the diversity of people's experiences. Some have suggested that the singular impact of the war on the domestic front was the economic boom that it initiated and the speed with which it put Depression-era men back to work, as if war was only about gross national production.

Men in the s also have often been characterized in monochromatic terms, with the impression given that all were a drafted or volunteered, b sent overseas and into combat, and c welcomed home as heroes when they returned. Such generalizations, however, ignore the myriad ways that the war was felt and perceived and the significant differences that existed from one group to the next.


The social meaning of World War II varied substantially by among other things : race, ethnicity, social class, gender, age, geography, religion, whether one had or had not seen combat, and the particular relationship one had with the casualties e. One thus cannot talk about the war's economic effect without acknowledging the Japanese Americans who, in U.

As one Japanese American woman reported, "My father kept looking for work [after the war], and he couldn't find anything. Nor can one speak of the pride that men gained from being in the military and being given a chance to defend their country without acknowledging the fact that Black men initially were barred from enlisting, and that when they were allowed to participate they were told they would have to serve in noncombat roles.

Even when African Americans were eventually permitted to join or be drafted the United States could ill afford to continue to exclude them if it was to win the war and even though many were in the thick of battle the decorated Tuskegee Airmen constitute only a small proportion of the Black soldiers who fought , they were not revered when they returned, as White soldiers were, but sometimes were scorned.

To cite but one example, in , Isaac Woodward, traveling in uniform, was on his way home by bus to South Carolina and, at one point, asked the bus driver, who was White, if it would be possible to stop the vehicle so he could use the bathroom. Consider, too, that although the armed forces were by law desegregated in , the privileges that White veterans enjoyed were not offered in equal measure to Black veterans.

Bill benefits, which provided educational and housing opportunities for millions of White veterans, were frequently denied to Black veterans. New York's famed suburb, Levittown, which began construction in and flourished throughout the s, systematically excluded African American families. That such an outlandish story could gain credence was not surprising: notwithstanding the massive cannon fire of previous ages, and even automatic weaponry unveiled in the American Civil War, nothing like this thunderous new artillery firepower had been seen before.

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A battery of mobile 75mm field guns, the pride of the French Army, could, for example, sweep ten acres of terrain, yards deep, in less than 50 seconds; , shells had been fired in a five-day period of the September engagement on the Marne. The rumor emanating from there reflected the instinctive dread aroused by such monstrous innovation. Shrapnel from mortars, grenades and, above all, artillery projectile bombs, or shells, would account for an estimated 60 percent of the 9. And, eerily mirroring the mythic premonition of the Marne, it was soon observed that many soldiers arriving at the casualty clearing stations who had been exposed to exploding shells, although clearly damaged, bore no visible wounds.

The Shock of War

Rather, they appeared to be suffering from a remarkable state of shock caused by blast force. In a landmark article, Capt. Organic injury from blast force? Or neurasthenia, a psychiatric disorder inflicted by the terrors of modern warfare? Yet it was a nervous age, the early 20th century, for the still-recent assault of industrial technology upon age-old sensibilities had given rise to a variety of nervous afflictions. As the war dragged on, medical opinion increasingly came to reflect recent advances in psychiatry, and the majority of shell shock cases were perceived as emotional collapse in the face of the unprecedented and hardly imaginable horrors of trench warfare.

There was a convenient practical outcome to this assessment; if the disorder was nervous and not physical, the shellshocked soldier did not warrant a wound stripe, and if unwounded, could be returned to the front. Then when it seemed right on top of us, it did, with a shattering crash that made the earth tremble. It was terrible. The concussion felt like a blow in the face, the stomach and all over; it was like being struck unexpectedly by a huge wave in the ocean. Transferred to a treatment center in Britain or France, the invalided soldier was placed under the care of neurology specialists and recuperated until discharged or returned to the front.

Officers might enjoy a final period of convalescence before being disgorged back into the maw of the war or the working world, gaining strength at some smaller, often privately funded treatment center—some quiet, remote place such as Lennel House, in Coldstream, in the Scottish Borders country. The Lennel Auxiliary Hospital, a private convalescent home for officers, was a country estate owned by Maj.

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Walter and Lady Clementine Waring that had been transformed, as had many private homes throughout Britain, into a treatment center. The estate included the country house, several farms, and woodlands; before the war, Lennel was celebrated for having the finest Italianate gardens in Britain. Lennel House is of interest today, however, not for its gardens, but because it preserved a small cache of medical case notes pertaining to shell shock from the First World War.

Similarly, 80 percent of U. Army service records from to were lost in a fire at the National Personnel Records Office in St. Louis, Missouri, in Thus, although shell shock was to be the signature injury of the opening war of the modern age, and although its vexed diagnostic status has ramifications for casualties of Iraq and Afghanistan today, relatively little personal medical data from the time of the Great War survives. The files of the Lennel Auxiliary Hospital, however, now housed in the National Archives of Scotland, had been safeguarded amid other household clutter in the decades after the two world wars in a metal box in the Lennel House basement.

In , Maj. The major was in uniform for most of the war, on duty in France, Salonika and Morocco, and it was therefore Lady Clementine who had overseen the transformation of Lennel House into a convalescent home for neurasthenic soldiers. Generally arriving at Lennel from treatment centers in London and Edinburgh, convalescing officers were received as country house guests. Their common status as officers notwithstanding, the men came from many backgrounds. A number had served at Gallipoli, and all too many had been injured on the Western Front.

Life at Lennel was conducted in the familiar and subtly strict routine of the well-run country house, with meals at set times, leisurely pursuits and tea on the terrace. Kept busy throughout the day with country walks, chummy conversation, piano playing, table tennis, fishing, golfing and bicycling, and semiformal meals, each officer nonetheless retired at night to his private room and here confronted, starkly and alone, the condition that had brought him this peaceful interlude in the first place. Got terribly guilty conscience over having killed Huns.

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Many treatments abounded for the neurasthenic soldier. The most notorious were undoubtedly Dr. Electric heat baths, milk diets, hypnotism, clamps and machines that mechanically forced stubborn limbs out of their frozen position were other strategies. As the war settled in, and shell shock—both commotional and emotional—became recognized as one of its primary afflictions, treatment became more sympathetic.

Rest, peace and quiet, and modest rehabilitative activities became the established regimen of care, sometimes accompanied by psychotherapy sessions, the skillful administration of which varied from institution to institution and practitioner to practitioner. While the officers at Lennel were clearly under medical supervision, it is not evident what specific treatments they received. She was, according to her grandson Sir Ilay, an early advocate of occupational therapy—keeping busy. Pritchard Taylor, a much-decorated officer, observed.

The extent to which blast force was responsible for shell shock is of more than historic interest. According to a Rand Corporation study, 19 percent of U. In , the U. As the movie was originally scheduled to shoot at the same time as Home Alone 2 , the start date for The Good Son was pushed back for a year, making Steenburgen no longer available and having her replaced by Wendy Crewson but also enabling Elijah Wood 's involvement.

Director Lehmann and producer Mark conflicted with the imposition, leading both to leave the project. The demanding Culkin would go on to insist that his daughter Quinn receive a role in the film and vetted replacement director Joseph Ruben Sleeping with the Enemy.

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McEwan found himself performing further rewrites that continued to simplify the story to satisfy Ruben's comparatively mainstream tastes and was ultimately unceremoniously removed from the project altogether when another screenwriter was commissioned, Ruben's frequent collaborator David Loughery. Despite this, McEwan was awarded sole writing credit in arbitration when he contested a shared credit. A DVD of the film was released on September 11, Bernstein and Patrick Russ. A tie-in novel was published alongside the movie's release in , written by Todd Strasser.

The novel elaborates on the movie, detailing how Henry was born a sociopath, rather than being some personification of evil. In the novel, Henry's mother Susan eventually discovers that Henry is unable to understand emotions like love and sorrow and that pleasure derived from selfish actions and the torment of others are the few things he truly feels. The book also concludes differently from the movie, ending with Mark returning to Uncle Wallace's home in Maine one year later. Roger Ebert , who deemed the film inappropriate for children, awarded it half a star, calling the project a "creepy, unpleasant experience".

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This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Retrieved April 19, Huh': Ian McEwan was happy with his first Hollywood film.

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    Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family
    Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family
    Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family
    Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family
    Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family
    Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family
    Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family
    Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family
    Suffocated 2: The American War on Fathers and Family

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