On Military Memoirs

A Quantitative Comparison of International Afghanistan War Autobiographies, 2001-2010


Winner of the Caforio prize for the best book in armed forces and civil-military relations published between 2015 and 2016

In On Military Memoirs Esmeralda Kleinreesink offers insight into military books: who were their writers and publishers, what were their plots, and what motives did their authors have for writing them. Every Afghanistan war autobiography published in the US, the UK, Germany, Canada and the Netherlands between 2001 and 2010 is compared quantitatively and qualitatively.

On Military Memoirs shows that soldier-authors are a special breed; that self-published books still cater to different markets than traditionally published ones; that cultural differences are clearly visible between warrior nations and non-warrior nations; that not every contemporary memoir is a disillusionment story; and that writing is serious business for soldiers wanting to change the world.

The book provides an innovative example of how to use interdisciplinary, mixed-method, cross-cultural research to analyse egodocuments.

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Esmeralda Kleinreesink, Ph.D. is a lieutenant-colonel with the Royal Netherlands Air Force. She obtained her doctorate at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication in 2014. She is also a certified interpreter Dutch-English. Her own military memoir on Afghanistan is called Officier in Afghanistan (Meulenhoff, 2012).
“innovative, refreshing, and ground breaking [...] a well-researched book with a convincing theoretical framework and insightful experiences, which can only be recommended to anyone interested in knowing the real life of military personnel.”
From the jury report of the Caforio Award, June 2017.

“This contribution to the literature on military writing is uniquely relevant and valuable.”
Kate Hendricks Thomas, Charleston Southern University. In: Journal of Veterans Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2017), p. 122-126.

“In On Military Memoirs Dr. Esmeralda Kleinreesink provides the most extensive study ever published on autobiographical books written by soldiers. The author provides her readers with valuable insight on how soldiers experience their service, mainly in Afghanistan. On Military Memoirs is a book that should be on the shelf of every scholar and officer interested in military studies and be taught at every military academy and program on military studies.”
Professor Yagil Levy, The Open University of Israel
List of Figures and Tables

Chapter 1 Introduction: Who, What and Why
Chapter 2 Theory: Egodocuments and the Military
Chapter 3 Methodology: Quantitative & Qualitative Methods for Autobiographical Research
Chapter 4 Context: The Missions in Afghanistan

Chapter 5 Who Writes and Publishes Soldiers’ Stories?
Chapter 6 What Do Soldier-Authors Write About?
Chapter 7 Why Do Soldier-Authors Write?
Chapter 8 Conclusion: Profiling the Soldier-Author
Chapter 9 Reflections: Some Personal Notes on How to Proceed
Chapter 10 The Fifty-Four Books

Author Index
Subject Index

Historians, sociologists, psychologists, literary scholars, anthropologists and military professionals interested in writers, military memoirs or Afghanistan veterans. Egodocument researchers looking for a methodological example of mixed-method research. Academic libraries. Publishers.
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