‘Still being sent to Nam to protect America’s myths’: Anti-war Soldiering and the Challenge to Cold War Patriotism

Part I: Anti-war Activism within the Military

A 1971 Army study suggests that over 50% of active duty soldiers engaged in some form of dissent during their service. Rejecting popular Cold War patriotic mythology, these activist soldiers deemed the military an authoritarian institution and a tool of oppression wrought by an imperialistic America. In doing so, they challenged the official Cold War depiction of the United States as the protector of global democratic ideals against an evil, totalitarian communist ideology. Continue reading

Book Review: The Good Occupation: American Soldiers and the Hazards of Peace by Susan L. Carruthers

Historical amnesia has created the impression that the reconstruction of Germany and Japan along liberal capitalist lines was a foregone conclusion in 1945. In reality, however, the decision to occupy was a contested question for both Washington’s decision-makers and for soldiers on the ground, many of whom would become reluctant participants in America’s project of democratic nation-building. Continue reading

Book Review: Whiteness on the Border: Mapping the U.S. Racial Imagination in Brown and White by Lee Bebout

The work of Arizona State Associate Professor, Lee Bebout, in Whiteness on the Border is certainly topical. To date, the current U.S. administration plans to build a multi-billion-dollar border wall between Mexico and the U.S., solidifying a line in the sand across which ‘Mexican chaos south of the border must not cross’ (63). Those Americans supporting such a project are likely influenced to varying degrees by the very stereotypes about which Bebout writes. He suggests that theirs ‘is a fear not of military invasion per se but of cultural and biological influence and takeover’ (69). Continue reading

Book review: A Short History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean by Alan McPherson

In A Short History of U.S. Interventions, part of Wiley-Blackwell’s Viewpoints/Punto de Vista series, Alan McPherson analyses U.S. interventions in Latin America from the No Transfer resolution of 1811 through the present-day drug wars. McPherson argues that the foremost goal of U.S. policymakers was ‘political stability and political cultural change’ (4). Economic and other motivations certainly played a role, but he asserts that every intervention ‘harboured above all political motives’ (4). Continue reading

Review: HOTCUS Postgraduate Conference, ‘Situating Servicemen and Women: African American Soldiers during World War Two’

‘Winning Minds and Hearts: Constructing National Identity in US History’, HOTCUS Postgraduate Conference, Northumbria University, 9 September 2016. In the third of our review series for the HOTCUS Postgraduate Conference, ‘Winning Minds and Hearts: Constructing National Identity in US History’, Jennifer O’Reilly reviews a panel featuring Rosemary Pearce (University of Nottingham) … Continue reading

In The Fields Of Democracy: The Midwest In World War I

World War I generated a new narrative in American national identity. The easterly crusade to save the Old World, or, in President Wilson’s words, to make the world ‘safe for democracy’, reversed the nation’s foundational movement of western exploration and settlement leading away from Europe.[i] As Joseph Urgo describes it, ‘[t]he close of the old frontier’ was followed by ‘the opening of the global imperial frontier’, inaugurating America’s status as a superpower. Continue reading

Book Review: States of Trial: Manhood in Philip Roth’s Post-War America by Ann Basu

Given that Philip Roth has spent most of his career defending his writing, it’s appropriate that his ‘retirement’ would only be a spur to further debate amongst his readers. After a quiet announcement in the French cultural magazine Les InRocks (so quiet that the Anglophone world didn’t pick up on it until a full month later), Roth called time on a long and storied career. Since then, several critics have already published research that attempts to grapple with the complex issue of Roth’s literary legacy. One of the best of these works is Ann Basu’s recent monograph States of Trial. Continue reading

Trauma, Code and 9/11: Reading Vulnerability in a Digitized Present

Trauma shatters what we know and hold to be true, and these 9/11 texts find unexpected ways out of this. They are fictions of terror that embrace the reality of trauma within a digitized world. Beyond mourning, the experience of terror becomes the starting point for re-defining the place of the individual in the convoluted realities of our present day. These texts are a sensorium for a more humane present in the face of global terrorism. Continue reading

“Teaching America” series Round-Up

Throughout September 2015 U.S. Studies Online ran a collaborative series with the Historians of Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) on the theme of “Teaching America”. The series offers readers an insight into the ongoing conversations around teaching U.S. history in higher education. Catch up on the series in our round-up here. Continue reading

US History as Myth-Busting

In the third post of the ‘Teaching America’ series Dr Andrew Hartman (Illinois State University), author of the forthcoming monograph A War for the Soul Of America: A History of the Culture Wars, discusses the ways in which graduate students can be encouraged to engage with ‘America as an idea’ in intellectual history modules. Continue reading