Men Under Fire: Motivation, Morale, and Masculinity among Czech Soldiers in the Great War, 1914–1918 | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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Men Under Fire: Motivation, Morale, and Masculinity among Czech Soldiers in the Great War, 1914–1918

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Volume 26

Austrian and Habsburg Studies

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Men Under Fire

Motivation, Morale, and Masculinity among Czech Soldiers in the Great War, 1914–1918

Jiří Hutečka
Translated from the Czech

300 pages, 10 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-541-1 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (December 2019)

ISBN  978-1-80073-930-7 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (May 2023)

eISBN 978-1-78920-542-8 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“Hutečka’s Men Under Fire is a pathbreaking book that greatly increases our understanding of Habsburg soldiers’ frontline experiences. It is meticulously researched and engages with relevant historiography, and it also reads well. … It is also an important addition to the history of masculinity and gender in general. This is, in short, a terrific book.” • American Historical Review

“This fascinating book makes significant contributions as both a highly original gender history of combat motivation and as an intervention into research on the Habsburg Empire in the First World War…This well-researched and thought-provoking study will be of great interest for scholars of the late Habsburg Empire and the First World War. Moreover, Hutečka’s innovative approach has valuable lessons for military historians. It provides a model demonstrating imaginatively how analysis focused on gender can generate essential new insights into why men fight.” • International Journal of Military History and Historiography

“Jiří Hutečka’s work is an immensely important and welcome contribution to scholarship on gendered experiences of war, serving as a reminder that even a well-known case can and should be approached from new perspectives. The book will be of particular interest to scholars of the First World War, historians of central Europe, and those concerned with the study of gender in armed conflict.” • Canadian Slavonic Papers

“Hutečka accomplished his goal of using gender to illuminate Czech soldiers’ motivation. He deserves praise for writing an effective and useful book that should be read by students and historians of gender and war.” • Journal of Military History

“Hutečka has written one of the most energetic and insightful studies of First World War soldiers in any army or country.” • Bohemia

“Based on a rich source base, this superbly innovative study forces us to rethink how men experienced and endured the violence of the First World War. It takes us deep into that world of male powerlessness, where a soldier’s sense of their personal masculinity was constantly being challenged and deformed. Jiří Hutečka puts Czech behaviour in the Habsburg army at the heart of this horror, cutting through the old histories to reveal why the stereotype of the ‘disloyal Czech’ finally became a reality by 1918. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how men and masculinity are shaped by war, and it also impressively forges a new path for those who seek to understand and explain the wartime Austro-Hungarian army.” • Mark Cornwall, University of Southampton

“Hutečka has fluently written an especially interesting and insightful book that is replete with fascinating vignettes culled from a range of first-hand testimonial accounts. He situates his sources and analysis expertly within the literature on the First World War and the experience of soldiers in other European countries.” • Benjamin Frommer, Northwestern University

Men under Fire not only fills a gap in existing scholarship on the First World War by exploring Czech soldiers’ experiences, it sheds new light on masculinity and war in general. In particular, Hutečka’s nuanced analysis of conformity, obedience, and dissonance, as well as physical and psychological damage, make this book deserving of attention from scholars who specialize in the complex, subjective, traumatic effects of modern war.” • Jason Crouthamel, author of An Intimate History of the Front: Masculinity, Sexuality and German Soldiers in the First World War


In historical writing on World War I, Czech-speaking soldiers serving in the Austro-Hungarian military are typically studied as Czechs, rarely as soldiers, and never as men. As a result, the question of these soldiers’ imperial loyalties has dominated the historical literature to the exclusion of any debate on their identities and experiences. Men under Fire provides a groundbreaking analysis of this oft-overlooked cohort, drawing on a wealth of soldiers’ private writings to explore experiences of exhaustion, sex, loyalty, authority, and combat itself. It combines methods from history, gender studies, and military science to reveal the extent to which the Great War challenged these men’s senses of masculinity, and to which the resulting dynamics influenced their attitudes and loyalties.

Jiří Hutečka is Associate Professor and Director of the Institute of History at the University of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic. He holds a doctorate from the Palacký University in Olomouc and has published several books in the Czech language.

Subject: History: World War IGender Studies and Sexuality
Area: Central/Eastern Europe


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