Synopses & Reviews
In this magisterial book, a prize-winning historian shows how war has defined modern America. Michael Sherry argues that America's intense preoccupation with war emerged on the eve of World War II, marking a turning point as important as the Revolution, the end of the frontier, and other watersheds in American history. In the sixty years since the war, says Sherry, militarization has reshaped every facet of American life: its politics, economics, culture, social relations, and place in the world.According to Sherry, America's militarization began partly in response to threatening forces and changes abroad, but its internal sources and consequences in the long run proved more telling. War--as threat, necessity, or model of unified action--persistently justified the state's growing size, power, and activism. But as national government waged war on poverty, war on AIDS, and war on drugs, it fostered expectations of victory that it could not fulfill, aggravating the very distrust of federal authority that leaders sought to overcome and encouraging Americans to conceive of war as something they waged against each other rather than against enemies abroad. The paradigm of war thereby corroded Americans' faith in national government and embittered their conflicts over class, race, gender, religion, and the nation's very meaning. Sherry concludes by speculating on the possibility of ending America's long attachment to war.
In this magisterial book, a prize-winning historian shows how war has defined modern America and argues that militarization has reshaped every facet of American life: its politics, economics, culture, social relations, and place in the world.
"In this indespensable work of analysis and reflection, Sherry puts microscholarship to shame with his grand generalizing (and) reworks the national narrative, arguing powerfully for the primary of militarization.... A remarkable achievement". -- Robert Andersen, Chicago Tribune
"A remarkable tour de force.... At times sparkling, sometimes frustratingly provocative, always stimulating". -- Richard Overy, Sunday Times (London)
"Anyone who wants to come to terms with the complexity and meaning of American history in the twentieth century must confront this book. An impressive achievement indeed". -- Stanley Kutler, Times Higher Education Supplement
"Sherry's book can be read as an opinionated survey of American history since the 1930s, or as an extended essay on the nature and meaning of twentieth-century American life. Either way it works marvelously". -- H. W. Brands, Political Science Quarterly
"With a sharp eye for paradox and irony, Michael Sherry has given us an absolutely fresh perspective on our last half-century in a volume notable for its intellectual reach, subtle analysis, and graceful exposition". -- Michael Parrish, Reviews in American History
Prize-winning historian Michael S. Sherry shows how war has defined modern America and argues that militarization has reshaped every facet of American life--its politics, economics, culture, social relations, and place in the world. 17 illustrations.