LOOKING FOR THE GOOD WAR

My Book Recommendation

9780374219925

Samet investigates a vital question: “Has the prevailing memory of the ‘Good War,’ shaped…by nostalgia, sentimentality, and jingoism, done more harm than good?”

The author, a professor of English at West Point, engages in a simultaneously deep and wide exploration of the way the meaning and memory of World War II have shaped American identity, its sense of standing in the world, and narratives of other wars: Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, “and, retrospectively, the Civil War.” Drawing on a vast number of sources, including histories; firsthand accounts in letters, memoirs, and reportage; fiction; movies (produced during and after the war); comic books; and the Army’s guidebooks for soldiers, Samet smoothly distills the myths Americans have told themselves to justify the epithet of the “Good War” for a noble battle to liberate the world from fascism. That self-righteous myth, Samet asserts, “appeals to our national vanity, confirms the New World’s superiority to the Old, and validates modernity and the machine.” The experience of the war was marked by disillusion and confusion in the battlefield and on the homefront. The author underscores the ambivalence that pervaded the nation. Even as reports circulated about Nazi atrocities, most Americans were indifferent. The Pacific war, writes Samet, was “complicated by bitter racism” against the Japanese, while postwar novels and films “exhibit [the] confusion, discontent, and disaffection” felt by many returning soldiers. Furthermore, violence became not just associated with battle, but “an end in and of itself.” For example, “in the absence of a foreign enemy against whom to deploy their violence, comic books moved in the direction of brutality and horror.” Violence remains a lasting legacy of the war, leading Americans “repeatedly to imagine that the use of force can accomplish miraculous political ends even when we have the examples of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan to tell us otherwise.” Not just timely, Samet’s work is incisively argued and revelatory in its criticism.

A cogent analysis of the cultural realities of war.

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 978-0-374-21992-5

  • Great Circle: A novel Great Circle: A novel This is a story a woman’s unenthusiastic life as she strives to break free. Marian Graves is also from a family which has lost their fame. Instead of bitterness, Marian continues to dream for the future and works hard for her stars. Although her life is not easy, she refuses to let the circumstances of her past dictate the fate of her future. This is an American story about independence, shedding your past,Read More
  • Klara and the Sun: A novel The book Klara and the Sun is an emotional story about loss and love. A peculiar girl, Klara who always insists that someone else is always inside of her body finally comes face to face with her real self. It is a masterpiece is that still contemplative and thoughtful as you are being drawn in by the essence of that “someone else.”Read More
  • The Four Winds: A Novel The Four Winds: A Novel by Kristen Hannah is a charming yet gritty story of women who remember America's iconic dust storms and have been trying to survive since the nation asks them to. This book is a touching story of survival, resilience, and hope.Read More

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

You May Also Like