In this Book

Why We Fought
summary
Film moves audiences like no other medium; both documentaries and feature films are especially remarkable for their ability to influence viewers. Best-selling author James Brady remarked that he joined the Marines to fight in Korea after seeing a John Wayne film, demonstrating how a motion picture can change the course of a human life—in this case, launching the career of a major historian and novelist. In Why We Fought: America’s Wars in Film and History, editors Peter C. Rollins and John E. O’Connor explore the complexities of war films, describing the ways in which such productions interpret history and illuminate American values, politics, and culture. This comprehensive volume covers representations of war in film from the American Revolution in the 18th century to today’s global War on Terror. The contributors examine iconic battle films such as The Big Parade (1925), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), From Here to Eternity (1953), and Platoon (1986), considering them as historical artifacts. The authors explain how film shapes our cultural understanding of military conflicts, analyzing how war is depicted on television programs, through news media outlets, and in fictional and factual texts. With several essays examining the events of September 11, 2001, and their aftermath, the book has a timely relevance concerning the country’s current military conflicts. Jeff Chown examines controversial documentary films about the Iraq War, while Stacy Takacs considers Jessica Lynch and American gender issues in a post-9/11 world, and James Kendrick explores the political messages and aesthetic implications of United 93. From filmmakers who reshaped our understanding of the history of the Alamo, to Ken Burns’s popular series on the Civil War, to the uses of film and media in understanding the Vietnam conflict, Why We Fought offers a balanced outlook— one of the book’s editors was a combat officer in the United States Marines, the other an antiwar activist—on the conflicts that have become touchstones of American history. As Air Force veteran and film scholar Robert Fyne notes in the foreword, American war films mirror a nation’s past and offer tangible evidence of the ways millions of Americans have become devoted, as was General MacArthur, to “Duty, honor, and country.” Why We Fought chronicles how, for more than half a century, war films have shaped our nation’s consciousness.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title
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  1. Copyright
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  1. Dedication
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  1. CONTENTS
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  1. FOREWORD
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  2. pp. xiii-xiv
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  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. pp. 1-38
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  1. Part I. The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: Revolution, Conquest, and Union
  2. pp. 39-40
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  1. 1. THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION ON THE SCREEN: Drums Along the Mohawk and The Patriot
  2. pp. 41-62
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  1. 2. REPRINTING THE LEGEND: The Alamo on Film
  2. pp. 63-76
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  1. 3. ASSESSING TELEVISION’S VERSION OF HISTORY: The Mexican-American War and the KERA Documentary Series
  2. pp. 77-98
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  1. 4. KEN BURNS’S REBIRTH OF A NATION: The Civil War as Made-for-Television History
  2. pp. 99-120
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  1. 5. “IT’S WHAT PEOPLE SAY WE’RE FIGHTING FOR”: Representing the Lost Cause in Cold Mountain
  2. pp. 121-134
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  1. Part II. The Twentieth Century: Total War
  2. pp. 135-136
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  1. 6. THE GREAT WAR VIEWED FROM THE 1920S: The Big Parade
  2. pp. 137-155
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  1. 7. TECHNOLOGY AND “REEL PATRIOTISM” IN AMERICAN FILM ADVERTISING OF THE WORLD WAR I ERA
  2. pp. 156-174
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  1. 8. CULTURE WARS AND THE LOCAL SCREEN: The Reception of Westfront 1918 and All Quiet on the Western Front in One German City
  2. pp. 175-195
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  1. 9. THE PEACE, ISOLATIONIST, AND ANTI-INTERVENTIONIST MOVEMENTS AND INTERWAR HOLLYWOOD
  2. pp. 196-225
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  1. 10. THE B MOVIE GOES TO WAR IN HITLER, BEAST OF BERLIN
  2. pp. 226-241
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  1. 11. WHY WE FIGHT AND PROJECTIONS OF AMERICA: Frank Capra, Robert Riskin, and the Making of World War II Propaganda
  2. pp. 242-258
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  1. 12. ON TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT WAR: World War II and Hollywood’s Moral Fiction, 1945–1956
  2. pp. 259-282
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  1. 13. JAMES JONES, COLUMBIA PICTURES, AND THE HISTORICAL CONFRONTATIONS OF FROM HERE TO ETERNITY
  2. pp. 283-302
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  1. 14. HOLLYWOOD’S D-DAY FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE 1960S AND 1990S: The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan
  2. pp. 303-314
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  1. Part III. Cold War and Insurgency: The Paradox of Limited Wars
  2. pp. 315-316
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  1. 15. COLD WAR BERLIN IN THE MOVIES: From The Big Lift to The Promise
  2. pp. 317-349
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  1. 16. INVADERS OF THE COLD WAR: Generic Disruptions and Shifting Gender Roles in The Day the Earth Stood Still
  2. pp. 349-366
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  1. 17. USING POPULAR CULTURE TO STUDY THE VIETNAM WAR: Perils and Possibilities
  2. pp. 367-389
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  1. 18. FRAGMENTS OF WAR: Oliver Stone’s Platoon
  2. pp. 390-403
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  1. 19. THE QUIET AMERICAN: Graham Greene’s Vietnam Novel through the Lenses of Two Eras
  2. pp. 404-428
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  1. Part IV. The Twenty-first Century: Terrorism and Asymmetrical Conflicts
  2. pp. 429-430
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  1. 20. OPERATION RESTORE HONOR IN BLACK HAWK DOWN
  2. pp. 431-457
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  1. 21. DOCUMENTARY AND THE IRAQ WAR: A New Genre for New Realities
  2. pp. 458-487
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  1. 22. JESSICA LYNCH AND THE REGENERATION OF AMERICAN IDENTITY POST 9/11
  2. pp. 488-510
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  1. 23. REPRESENTING THE UNREPRESENTABLE: 9/11 on Film and Television
  2. pp. 511-528
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  1. FILMOGRAPHY
  2. pp. 529-565
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  1. BIBLIOGRAPHY
  2. pp. 566-574
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  1. CONTRIBUTORS
  2. pp. 575-583
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  1. INDEX
  2. pp. 584-604
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  1. ABOUT THE EDITORS
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