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American Wars, American Peace

Notes from a Son of the Empire

Philip D. Beidler

Publication Year: 2007

As a writer, Philip D. Beidler has often drawn on his combat experience in Vietnam and his deep engagement with American popular culture. His essays tap these sources in powerful, truth-telling ways. In American Wars, American Peace, another voice emerges, distinct yet also tied to Beidler's wartime memories and his love of literature, film, and music. It is the voice of one of the “baby-boom progeny of the 'Greatest Generation' who at home and abroad became the foot soldiers” not just in Vietnam but in the Peace Corps, the civil rights movement, the women's movement, and beyond.

Beidler has experienced enough of history to question “the kinds of peace that one empire after another has tried to impose on the world at whatever immense costs.” As he reflects on terrorism, patriotism, geopolitics, sacrifice, propaganda, and more, Beidler revisits his generation's “inherited vision of national purpose”--and he asks what happened. These essays are a sobering wake-up call for even the most informed and conscientious citizen.

Published by: University of Georgia Press


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p. ix

I wish to thank the following people who helped me write this book: Donald Anderson, Joe Bageant, Celeste Burnum, Larry Goldstein, Belinda Gordon, Nancy Grayson, Mark Heberle, Richard Hyatt, Tim O'Brien, Andrea Porter, Steve Russell, Richard Summers, and the...

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Pax Americana

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pp. 1-9

As in my previous book, Late Thoughts on an Old War, American Wars, American Peace comprises a set of linked essays combining personal memory and cultural reflection. The starting point in...

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Top Gun and the Tank Driver

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pp. 10-22

Consider this essay a species of history. Actually, I insist—even as the dying from the catastrophic U.S. war in Iraq has gone on for so long that what I attempt to record here will never amount to anything...

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Sons and Fathers, Bad Wars and Good Wars

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pp. 23-32

My friend John, the wise and learned physician, never lived a day without knowing how completely he had been part of the generation of 1945. When asked throughout his life for a biographical...

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An Old GI Looks at Generation Kill

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pp. 33-55

"No lie, GI" as we used to say in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade near Xuan Loc back in the late 1960s. "There it is." If those sentences do not seem to say much now, neither did they speak to anyone outside the world of combat back then. Then or now, the only...

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Squad Leaders in the Sky

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pp. 56-77

This imaginary exchange will surely bring back memories for veterans of the Vietnam War who tried to function as small-unit commanders on the ground. Amid the daily work of...

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Home of the Infantry

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pp. 78-96

If an election were held to choose the Holy City of the United States Army, my guess is that Columbus,Georgia, would be the top vote-getter. Columbus is the home of Fort Benning. Fort Benning is the home of the...

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pp. 97-119

Hajis. This is the name our young military people use for the current enemy. Technically, a Haji is one who makes the Hajj: the pilgrimage, the journey to Mecca that Islam says every Muslim should make...

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What I Learned in the Green Machine

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pp. 120-127

Some months back, as an English faculty member at my university for three decades and an armored cavalry platoon leader thirty-five years ago in Vietnam, I accepted an invitation from the...

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Swindled by Saint Jack

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pp. 128-144

"The country made a terrible mistake last night." Thus I recall myself intoning, in some callow attempt at portentousness, to a jubilant high school classmate I still remember as the only person of my acquaintance...

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The Best and the Brightest, Only Dumber

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pp. 145-156

When the time comes to write some large, historically contextualized study of the people in positions of authority in America who gave us the Iraq War, I nominate my present title, imaging David...

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Hopeless in Honolulu

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pp. 157-166

Honolulu, late November 2005: keeping a steady but comfortable pace— that of an average, reasonably healthy, late-middle-aged person—I find I can walk fromWaikiki Beach to the top of Diamond...

A Note on Sources

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pp. 167-170

E-ISBN-13: 9780820336497
E-ISBN-10: 0820336491
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820329697
Print-ISBN-10: 082032969X

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 593297316
MUSE Marc Record: Download for American Wars, American Peace

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Subject Headings

  • Iraq War, 2003- -- Social aspects.
  • Beidler, Philip D.
  • Idealism, American.
  • United States -- Military policy.
  • Imperialism.
  • War and society -- United States.
  • Memory -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Social aspects.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1989-.
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