Review of "Those Who Have Borne the Battle: America’s Wars and Those Who Fought Them" by James Wright

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Publication Title

Choice Reviews Online




Historian and former Dartmouth College president Wright adroitly examines the complex relationship between the US people and the citizen soldiers who fight the country's wars. Beginning his engaging narrative with the American Revolution, Wright focuses on the period from WW II through the Vietnam War. Indeed, his discussion of the Vietnam experience is the strongest as he reconciles myth and history in explaining Vietnam veterans' experience. Over time, with the exception of WW II, the US has called on fewer Americans to serve in wartime, and, Wright finds, the American people have increasing difficulty supporting wars that lack clear objectives. This development has resulted in a confused public reaction to returning veterans, one that briefly hails service members as heroes and then quickly pushes them aside. Wright's accessible style and approach is patriotic and personal yet questions common perceptions of US wars and of the men and women who have fought them.