Total Mobilization (Paperback)
World War II and American Literature
University of Chicago Press, 9780226637310, 288pp.
Publication Date: August 9, 2019
List Price: 27.50*
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Since World War II, the story of the trauma hero—the noble white man psychologically wounded by his encounter with violence—has become omnipresent in America’s narratives of war, an imaginary solution to the contradictions of American political hegemony. In Total Mobilization, Roy Scranton cuts through the fog of trauma that obscures World War II, uncovering a lost history and reframing the way we talk about war today.
Considering often overlooked works by James Jones, Wallace Stevens, Martha Gellhorn, and others, alongside cartoons and films, Scranton investigates the role of the hero in industrial wartime, showing how such writers struggled to make sense of problems that continue to plague us today: the limits of American power, the dangers of political polarization, and the conflicts between nationalism and liberalism. By turning our attention to the ways we make war meaningful—and by excavating the politics implicit within the myth of the traumatized hero—Total Mobilization revises the way we understand not only World War II, but all of postwar American culture.
About the Author
Roy Scranton is assistant professor of English at the University of Notre Dame and the author of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of Civilization, We’re Doomed. Now What? Essays on War and Climate Change, and two novels, War Porn and I Heart Oklahoma!