American War Storiesasks readers to contemplate what traditionally constitutes a “war story” and how that constitution obscures the normalization of militarism in American culture. The book claims the traditionally narrow scope of “war story,” as by a combatant about his wartime experience, compartmentalizes war, casting armed violence as distinct from everyday American life.Broadening “war story” beyond the specific genres of war narratives such as “war films,” “war fiction,” or “war memoirs,”
American War Stories exposes how ingrained militarism is in everyday American life, a condition that challenges the very democratic principles the United States is touted as exemplifying.
BRENDA M. BOYLE is a professor of English and director of the Writing Center at Denison University, Granville, Ohio. She authored
Masculinity in Vietnam War Narratives, co-authored
Masculinity and Monstrosity in Contemporary Hollywood Films, edited
The Vietnam War, and co-edited
Looking Back on the Vietnam War.
"Boyle excavates America’s most sacred martial myths with paleontological care, unearthing a surprise from every inch of sediment.Beyond curating the struggles and accidents of history, she expertly shows how they have been reshaped by powerful interests into an apparently natural landscape. In doing so,
American War Storiesgives us a language for the tectonics of received understanding."
— Roger Stahl, professor of communications, University of Georgia
American War Storiesstarts with the important idea that, in recent years, a pernicious dedication to dubiously authentic 'soldier'sstories' and paid patriotism has naturalized a particular kind of militarist triumphalism that obscures the events of the past and renders a workable understanding of the present impossible. Delving into a range of genresof this storytelling--film, memorials, memoirs, half-time shows--Boyle offers a compellingreconstruction of some of these stories as they serve the needs of an all-volunteer military and a population that is increasingly removed from both military service and the direct costs of war. She argues that thesestories enable the emergence of a proud narrative of well-meaning underdogs serving the needs of a waiting world to come to be seen as an obvious, plain truth rather than a violent, blinding invention."
— Kristin Hass, author of Carried to the Wall and Sacrificing Soldiers on the National Mall