Cover image for Wasteland : the Great War and the origins of modern horror / W. Scott Poole.
Wasteland : the Great War and the origins of modern horror / W. Scott Poole.
First hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
Berkeley, California : Counterpoint : Distributed by Publishers Group West, [2018]
Physical Description:
289 pages ; 24 cm
Foreword: Corpses in the wasteland -- Symphony of horror -- Waxworks -- Nightmare bodies -- Fascism and horror -- Universal monsters -- Afterword: The age of horror.
"The roots of modern horror are found in the First World War. It was the most devastating event to occur in the early 1900s, with 38 million dead and 17 million wounded in the most grotesque of ways, owing to the new machines brought to war. If Downton Abbey showed the ripple effect of this catastrophe above stairs, Wasteland reveals how it made its way into the darker corners of our psyche on the bloody battlefield, the screaming asylum, and desolated cities and villages. Historian W. Scott Poole chronicles the era's major figures and their influences--Freud, T.S. Eliot, H.P. Lovecraft, Wilfred Owen and Peter Lorre, David Cronenberg and Freddy Krueger--as well as cult favorites and the collective unconscious. Wasteland is a surprising--but wholly convincing--perspective on horror that also speaks to the audience for history, film, and popular culture. November 11th, 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that brought the First World War to a close, and a number of smart and well-received recent histories have helped us reevaluate this conflict. Now W. Scott Poole takes us behind the frontlines of battle to the dark places of the imagination where the legacy of the war to end all wars lives on" -- Provided by publisher.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
791.436164 POO Book Adult General Collection

On Order



Historian and Bram Stoker Award nominee W. Scott Poole traces the confluence of history, technology, and art that gave us modern horror films and literature

In the early twentieth century, World War I was the most devastating event humanity had yet experienced. New machines of war left tens of millions killed or wounded in the most grotesqueof ways. The Great War remade the world's map, created new global powers, and brought forth some of the biggest problems still facing us today. But it also birthed a new art form: the horrorfilm, made from the fears of a generation ruined by war.
From Nosferatu to Frankenstein's monster and the Wolf Man, from Fritz Lang, F. W. Murnau, and Albin Grau to Tod Browning and James Whale, the touchstones of horror can all trace their roots to the bloodshed of the First World War. Historian W. Scott Poole chronicles these major figures and the many movements they influenced. Wasteland reveals how bloody battlefields, the fear of the corpse, and a growing darkness made their way into the deepest corners of our psyche.
On the one-hundredth anniversary of the signing of the armistice that brought World War I to a close, W. Scott Poole takes us behind the front lines of battle to a no-man's-land where the legacy of the War to End All Wars lives on.

Author Notes

W. SCOTT POOLE is a professor of history at the College of Charleston who teaches and writes about horror and popular culture. His past books include th award-winning Monsters in America and the biography Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror . He is a Bram Stoker Award nominee for his critically acclaimed biography of H. P. Lovecraft, In the Mountains of Madness .

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this thoroughly engrossing cultural study, Poole (In the Mountains of Madness), a history professor at the College of Charleston, persuasively argues that the birth of horror as a genre is rooted in the unprecedented destruction and carnage of WWI. Filmmakers and artists, many of them veterans, he proposes, saw in horror imagery a way to critique war, and thereby "transformed fantasy into a simulacrum of reality." Poole locates glimpses of the war's horrors in work produced during and soon after it-not only explicit references, as in the trench warfare art of Otto Dix and the war dead rising at the end of Abel Gance's film J'Accuse, but in more subliminal images: the technologized tools of killing in Kafka's story "In the Penal Colony"; the somnambulist who unthinkingly obeys an authoritarian master in the film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; images of body dismemberment in Freud's essay The Uncanny. Although some may feel that Poole overstates the proliferation of war horror images in the arts, his extensive and well-supported citations will make it hard for readers who haven't considered the wartime context for horror's emergence to forget it. Agent: Deirdre Mullane, Mullane Literary. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.