Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Aftermath: The Remnants of War” as Want to Read:
Aftermath: The Remnants of War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Aftermath: The Remnants of War

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  330 ratings  ·  35 reviews
In riveting and revelatory detail, Aftermath documents the ways in which wars have transformed the terrain of the battlefield into landscapes of memory and enduring terror: in France, where millions of acres of farmland are cordoned off to all but a corps of demolition experts responsible for the undetonated bombs and mines of World War I that are now rising up in fields, ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 12th 1998 by Vintage (first published September 1996)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Aftermath, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Aftermath

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  330 ratings  ·  35 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Aftermath: The Remnants of War
Aidan Blake
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this book as supplementary material to Dan Carlin's excellent Hardcore History Podcast, specifically his series "Blueprints for Armageddon" and "Ghosts of the OstFront", in which he references and recommends this book. This book was highly informative and engaging. It addresses unexploded WWI ordnance in France, the untouched skeletons of WWII German soldiers still laying outside of Stalingrad, unexploded ordnance and the effect of "The American War" in Vietnam, mine clearing in Kuwait fo ...more
Nancy Regan
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Second Battle of El Alamein became known, courtesy of Winston Churchill, as "not the end...[nor] even the beginning of the end, but ...perhaps the end of the beginning". Writing fifty plus year later, in 1996, Donovan Webster reframes my view of "the end of the beginning". After finishing Aftermath, I see the Paris Peace Treaties as the earliest possible date for the end of the beginning, the beginning, that is, of the war on the environment that the World War I leave-behinds conduct effortl ...more
Adam Marshall
This is a very good book. Even though this book is from over 20 years ago, Landmines and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) continue to plague many of the conflict zones of which Webster wrote. If you are interested in how you can help solve this problem, please visit for more information.

Currently, there is a campaign to make the world landmine-free by 2025. This is an issue we can all solve together. Please help by donating, writing your elected representatives, and passing this in
Jesse D
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this book after listening to various episodes of Dan Carlin's Hardcore History in which he mentioned the book. Rarely mentioned when talking about war history is the physical effect that takes place on various battlefields and terrains. It was fascinating to learn what still remains on the World War battlefields after all these years. This book should be required reading for anyone who has an interest in war history
Apr 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
A thoroughly gripping account of what happens to battlefields after the war is over. It looks at the work needed to clean them up and dispose of the ordinance left behind. From the unexploded artillery shells that still turn up to this day in the fields of France, to the disposal of chemical weapons in accordance with disarmament treaties, this is utterly fascinating stuff.
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing

In the aftermath of war, countries and their people are left to pick up the pieces after the devastation. Most countries given time are able to rebuild and live a semblance of a normal life again. For many countries however, the remnants of war survive long after the last shot is fired and the last body crashes to the earth.
This book takes us around the world. From France to Russia, Vietnam to Nevada, and far flung Kuwait in search of the how today’s survivors live with the scars of the past
Jon Haase
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well-written look at the remnants of War left after the last shells have fallen. Having seen remnants of war in Vietnam, I have a first-hand appreciation for what a grave problem this remains in many places in the world. Thankfully, in Europe there is a professional program to remediate these hazards, but in many parts of the world there isn't. This is a great look that's the world we live in, how will conflict like World War I and Vietnam have left incredible amounts of unexploded Ordnance, a ...more
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
An absolutely fascinating look at how war impacts the area long after the active fighting has ceased. From bunkers to mines, bodies to tanks, so much remains behind to be cleaned up, or covered up and forgotten.

I especially enjoyed the chapter on Siberia, enough so that I’m doing further research in efforts made to clean up the area after the publish date of this book.

Highly recommended for military history buffs as well as social history, for views into jobs produced by the need to take care of
Mike Fendrich
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a story. The aftermath of war. The massive piles of bones in Verdun and from the Germans invasion of Russia and siege of Leningrad, Agent Orange in Vietnam, land mines EVERYWHERE, chemical weapons. It is amazing what can come out of the mind and heart of man. And then someone has to clean it up (or maybe not). What a sobering book.
Byron Allred
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book.

I only wish this book was longer. I'd never read about the aftermath of battles - the cleanup and removal of bodies and weapons - until now. Supremely fascinating, and written with depth and emotionally charged feelings from people that have to do the cleanup. Again, I only wish this book longer.
Ryan Silve
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A horrifying tabulation of the detritus of (relatively) modern warfare that should prove sobering to any saber-rattling readers. If this book needs anything, it’s an updated edition.
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely one of the more powerful and haunting books that I have read. Especially the first two chapters. Well worth a read.
Kristin Strong
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is proof that, in the words of William Faulkner, "The past isn't dead. Actually, it's not even past."

We live today with the fallout (see what I did there) of other times when war raged somewhere in the world. Donovan Webster takes us on a trip through the 20th century's conflicts, beginning with World War I and concluding with then-ongoing efforts to dispose of the United State's obsolete chemical and toxic weapons stockpiles.

In France, he accompanies the nation's de-mining squads as t
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Many history books spend a great deal of time on the events leading up to a war which is necessary but personally, I have always been interested in what happened after the guns go silent and the treaties are signed. What happens after everyone goes home? What if they have no home to go home to? What is the effect on communities where a percentage of their young men are lost, or even in some cases if the town itself is lost?

Donovan Webster wondered the same thing. Traveling to France he wandered
Jul 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
An interesting book about battlefields generations after a war. Most military histories discuss what happened during the battle on a location and then move on when the armies do. But the effects of modern war can linger on for generations.

Webster visited battlefields in France, Russia, Vietnam, Kuwait, and even the chemical weapons disposal site in Utah and writes about what he found.

In France, Explosive Ordnance teams are still locating and disposing of bombs and shells from the battlefield o
An excellent read. Donovan Webster's premise is there are certain left behind issues from military action that need to be addressed from unintended consequences. Webster skillfully takes the reader through the remnant of war and the after affects on the populace both physically and psychologically. Aftermath: The Remnants of War looks at the devastation of munitions of WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Gulf War, and chemical weapons along with the effects that still affect the long quiet battlefields. What is ...more
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
We all know that war happens and assume that when one is over, that's it. Life goes back to normal. Webster shows that this is definitely not the case--not with any war. He begins with WWI then each subsequent chapter moves on to the next war, ending with the Gulf War. (The final chapter is a description of the chemical weapons destruction facility in Tooele, Utah.) In each chapter, Webster visits a country that was involved in the war (France--WWI, Russia--WWII, Vietnam--Vietnam War, Kuwait--Gu ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-history
The most sobering book I have ever read. Webster explains the inner workings and effects of 20th century weapons in a way that is both exhaustive and horrifying.

Webster also has a way of capturing settings and moods perfectly with artful descriptions of even the most mundane (describing a mans facial expression of disgust as ‘throwing accordions of wrinkles into his cheeks and closing the fleshy flaps over his eyes’ etc).

Before reading this I had a rudimentary understanding of unexploded ordnanc
Martin Landry
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
An amazing book that should be mandatory reading for all weapons designers, I would recommend it to any student of human conflict or with in an interest in the social consequences of modern warfare. Would have rated it 5 stars, however there were a few places where I felt the author could have done a bit more research, and perhaps did not in order to avoid contradicting anecdotal evidence. On the other hand, I am writing this with the benefit of hindsight, if I had read the book at its release I ...more
Nicholas Prior
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend Aftermath: The Remnants of War to anyone who is remotely interested in warfare or how combat has been conducted in the last 110 years. I could also recommend this book to anyone who might be interested in the clean up efforts after wars have taken place. It goes into great detail about the clean up effort underway in parts of France to rid the landscape of explosive shells left over from both world wars AND the Franco Prussian war that are STILL on going...
Aug 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Good book, very interesting. Formed part of the basis for Dan Carlin's Hardcore History episode, Ghosts of the Ostfront. A compelling read, makes plain the great advantages of living in the country that doesn't get invaded, but does the invading. I don't think it had this political slant as it's basis, but it certainly makes plain that terms of the "great game" living in the u.s. has been a pretty good deal.
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, 2011
This is a really interesting book, dealing with how past wars affect those in the present. For the most part, those in the present day try to keep the wars hidden, behind facades and walls and dark. Except the Russians, who plow and plant fields with German bones in them, because they can't be bothered to bury the Germans.
Sheila Lambert
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
We learn so much about the wars that occur in our world, but never really know what is left behind. Very scary to think how rash tempers will forever impact our globe in ways that you don't think of until you directly learn about it. Afterwards, it's all so obvious it's hard to believe you never thought of it before.

This is one of the few non-fiction books that I did not want to put down.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A shocking book which takes a look at 20th century battlefields. Most of chapters are depressing and shocking. The chapter on Vietnam was an exception. The resiliency of the Vietnamese people is encouraging. I wish more people would read this book and understand the war is gift which keeps on giving for decades!
Jan 22, 2013 rated it liked it
How can you really like a book like this? It was eye opening in a way and makes you think more of the long term affects of war that we have never seen in the United States. I can't imagine being afraid to go to a park or walk across a field because I might set off a 60 year old mine or un-exploded bomb shell.
Cristina Montanez
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Found this book in a second hand book store. I had no idea what to expect. Excellent! Written in a style that someone like me who is not a historian nor likes to read history books found fascinating and a hard to put down book. I was sorry the author did not include photos. I look forward to reading more books from him if they are out there.
Phillip Metzger
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the type of book you read very slowly. It is also one of the few books I've ever highlighted. It's equal parts scary, depressing, hopeful, humane, hopeful, and revealing. It shouldn't be something you want to read, much less enjoy reading, but you do. Some of the facts and figures are mind-blowing.
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, military, travel
A riveting account of the cost of war, told from the perspective of a contemporary reporter as he visits 3 major battlefields of the last century(France WW1, Russia WW2, and Vietnam) and the ongoing costs of cleaning up afterward decades later.
David Vernon
Apr 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating visit to some of the world's battlefields and an exploration of what remains. It has a focus on how the cost of war continues many many years after the graves have been dug.

A little more detail in places would be helpful.
Kirk Johnson
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
it's probably been over fifteen years since i've read this, but i still think about it quite a bit. it's probably shaped my views on war more than any other book i've read, and it colors any other war book i read.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Glenn Curtiss: Pioneer of Flight
  • Rocket Boys (Coalwood #1)
  • Player Piano
  • Rickenbacker: An Autobiography
  • Fighting the Flying Circus: The Greatest True Air Adventure to Come out of World War I
  • Eaters of the Dead
  • The Lost Battalion
  • Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter
  • Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills
  • The Order (Gabriel Allon #20)
  • The Miracle of Dunkirk (Wordsworth Collection)
  • The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time
  • Stillness Is the Key
  • What It is Like to Go to War
  • The End is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses
  • A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS
  • Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms & a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories
  • Pacific: The Ocean of the Future
See similar books…

News & Interviews

Are you spending this season bundling up against the chill or enjoying summery southern hemisphere vibes (in which case we are...
88 likes · 29 comments