The Warrior Image
Soldiers in American Culture from the Second World War to the Vietnam Era
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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In the course of writing The Warrior Image I benefited from the accessibility, kindness, and support of several mentors. First and foremost, I was fortunate to have James Patterson as my thesis adviser at Brown University. From the beginning, Jim was the model of a superior teacher, scholar, and friend. His careful editing, probing questions, and moral support have made this book immeasurably better, and I thank him ...
Introduction: Beyond Telling or Imagining
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Reflecting on more than two decades of experience covering conflict, the eminent war correspondent Martha Gellhorn wrote in 1959, “War is a malignant disease, an idiocy, a prison, and the pain it causes is beyond telling or imagining; but war was our condition and our history, the place we had to live in.”1 Gellhorn’s words suggest that capturing ...
PART I: THE WORLD WAR II ERA
1 Here Is Your War, 1941–1945
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Walking through New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in the summer of 1942, visitors would be sure to see the exhibit Road to Victory, a photographic account of the American people’s reluctant entrance into the Second World War. Beginning with serene pictures of the American West and small-town life, the sequence took a dramatic turn with a large photograph of the attack on Pearl Harbor just months earlier. Nearby was a photo ...
2 Little Guys with Golden Eagle Badges, 1945–1950
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By the fall of 1945, the euphoria of America’s triumph in World War II was receding behind a host of acute national crises. Simmering labor disputes, rising racial tensions, a housing shortage, and the enormous task of demobilization, all repressed by the war, finally boiled over. In late 1945 a heated battle raged in Washington over who among the military brass had been responsible for negligence leading ...
3 The Idea of Me, 1945–1950
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Three years after the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibit Road to Victory had toured the country in 1942, a new war-related photographic display rolled into towns across the United States. Starting at MoMA in New York City in early 1945, two versions of the exhibit Power in the Pacific traveled the country through the late spring of 1946, hitting towns such ...
PART II: THE LONG 1950S
4 Kilroy Is Back, 1950–1953
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In the early, dark days of the Korean War, an anonymous American gi announced the return of a cultural hero: himself. The fictitious soldier “Kilroy,” whose name had been scrawled on walls across every theater of World War II, reappeared in the deserted, war-ravaged town of Yechon, South Korea. If “Kilroy was here” during the last war, now, this weary American soldier scribbled, “Kilroy is back.”1 ...
5 The True Story of the Foot Soldier, 1951–1966
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To children of the 1950s, it seemed that every uncle or neighbor was a veteran of the armed forces. Almost all able-bodied young men had entered the service during World War II, and from the Korean War through the late 1950s roughly 70 percent of all draft-age males served in the military.1 By 1954 there were more living veterans in the United States, some 20 million, than ever before in American history. 2 ...
PART III: THE VIETNAM ERA
6 The Perplexing War, 1964–1968
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It was not the sort of beach landing so many young men endured in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. The marines who came ashore in a drizzling rain at Danang, South Vietnam, on March 8, 1965, met neither bullets, barbed wire, nor concrete but flowers and pretty girls. And they were not the first American ...
7 I Gave Them a Good Boy, 1969–1973
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Just three years after American ground troops had come ashore at Danang, Lyndon Johnson made the stunning announcement that he would not run for reelection in 1968. In those thirty-six intervening months, between March 1965 and March 1968, Vietnam ruined the president. Funds for the social programs of his Great Society ...
8 A Dark Side to Man’s Soul, 1967–1978
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When the television network FX premiered the short-lived Iraq War drama Over There in 2005, cultural critics noted that it was an unprecedented attempt to depict an ongoing American conflict on TV.1 A similar reluctance to tackle current wars had prevailed in Hollywood since the 1960s. Yet it was not always so. ...
Conclusion: The Warrior Image
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Between 1982 and 2004, public and private interest groups funded and built three major memorials to the soldiers of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C. With a measure of incongruity they went up in reverse chronological order. Yet if advocates erect memorials partly to honor ...
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Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 18 illus.
Publication Year: 2008