The Health of the State: Modern US War Narrative and the American Political Imagination, 1890-1964

TitleThe Health of the State: Modern US War Narrative and the American Political Imagination, 1890-1964
Publication TypeBook
AuthorsVincent, Johnathan
Number of Pages293
PublisherOxford University Press
City, CountryNew York
Abstract

The Health of the State is an interpretive cultural history that explores three phases of modern American war writing: the usable past of Civil War memory as it was employed in literature during the turn-of-the-century Progressive Era, the militarist and reactionary writing documenting America’s intervention into World War I and its fallout, and the culture of liberal pluralism that, in the years unfolding around World War II and after, witnessed the masculinization of the domestic Cold War liberal and the internationalism of the so-called American Century. Along the way, it considers protest writing recalcitrant to a culture acclimating to permanent war. But its larger story, as a diachronic history surveying distinct political phases, considers the evolution of a literary scene involved with a dynamic and adaptable process of American political mutation: from the liberal voluntarism of the citizen-soldier tradition in the nineteenth century to the geopolitical realism of permanent war in the twentieth. At the heart of that story is a philosophical concern with the supplementary power of war making—constitutive of evolving new US social formations—as a corrective to mainstream liberal ideals and their celebration of the open society: the health of the state

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