Up From the Farm: A Global Microhistory of Rural Americans and Africans in the First World War

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Were the effects of First World War truly similar globally? A comparison of how the conflict was perceived by two extremely different groups of rural people - southern Americans of the Jackson Purchase region of far western Kentucky and Africans in the small British Protectorate of Nyasaland in south central Africa - makes their microhistories significant rather than trivial by placing them a global context. In the early twentieth century, both groups were not only rural, but removed, decidedly disconnected from each other. Yet, drawing on documentary evidence, especially interviews with the last generation of First World War survivors in both regions, offers a significant perspective on how similar their experiences actually became in the crucible of a global war. The call to arms, their recruitment and resistance to service, combat adversities and cultural experiences, post-war disillusionments and triumphs, and especially the economic consequences of their war provide penetrating insights into the wide-ranging ordeals and opportunities that this first truly global event offered peoples worldwide.