The armed forces’ distrust of romantic relationships—and the apparent misogyny that underlies this view—ripples throughout Ms. Carruthers’s prose ... Ms. Carruthers is careful to acknowledge that couples are not hermetically sealed from the larger social shifts of the past century, including changes in women’s status, marital expectations and the conduct of warfare ... Ms. Carruthers makes a convincing case that 'the Dear John letter has helped make women, not war, the culprit for love’s breakdown under pressure. It’s time other stories—and other voices—were heard.'
Susan Carruthers sets out to explore the long and surprisingly complicated story of the ‘Dear John’ break-up letter sent by American women to US troops serving overseas. But her account offers insights into a broader entanglement, involving the militarism that shores up modern nationhood; the emotional and sexual ties that sustain and can destroy men in the military; and the women on whom male soldiers have poured hatred as well as adoration ... Before reading Carruthers’s book, I had scarcely considered how profoundly concern about the rejected or cuckolded soldier permeates Western culture ... Carruthers has less to say about sex workers than she might, which means that she probably underestimates their role in the business of war.
... an eye-opening study of wartime romances and breakups ... Flashes of wit enliven Carruthers’s academic prose, and she makes a persuasive case that the culture of the 'Dear John' letter has 'helped make women, not war, the culprit for love’s breakdown under pressure.' This feminist study sheds new light on an age-old topic.