Book review: The Royalist Revolution by Eric Nelson

In recent years there has been a renewed interest in executive power on both sides of the Atlantic. In January 2017 the Supreme Court had to decide whether the United Kingdom’s EU membership withdrawal notice could be given by Government ministers without Parliament’s prior authorisation. It could not. The royal prerogative was insufficient. [1] In August 2017, President Trump controversially used the power granted to his office to pardon former law official Joe Arpaio. [2] He could. The President has the “Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States”. [3] Eric Nelson’s ambitious and provocative book The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding successfully demonstrates that these events are in a way deeply connected by uncovering the historical link between the British royal prerogative and the powers of the presidency. Continue reading

Our Latest Longest War: Losing Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan

Aaron O’Connell is a veteran of the Afghanistan war — the aptly dubbed ‘latest longest’ one for the United States — where he served as Special Assistant to General David Petraeus. The book’s title evokes both the spectre of America’s other endless war, that in Vietnam, as well as the… Continue reading

More on War by Martin Van Creveld

“You may not be interested in war, but war may be interested in you.” (p.1) How many of us want to read about war? Does it remind us all of pain, loss, blood and misery? Martin Van Creveld’s newest book, “More on War”, is not a story of these things. He uses examples drawn from military history to explain what war is and add More to what we already know on this difficult subject. 

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Landscape and Masculinity in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms

The  Postgraduate Essay Prize is offered annually by the British Association for American Studies. It is awarded for the best essay-length piece of work on an American Studies topic written by a student currently registered for a postgraduate degree at a university or equivalent institution in Britain. This year’s winner is Victoria Addis, University of Leeds.  Continue reading

Book review: Preparing for War: The Emergence of the Modern U.S. Army, 1815-1917, by J.P. Clark

J.P. Clark combines his military experience and meticulous research in Preparing for War: The Emergence of the Modern U.S Army. The book is an insightful combination of military, political, and social history, and describes the evolution of Army officers’ formal education between 1815-1917 in an attempt to contextualise the shift from nineteenth to twentieth century understandings of military proficiency. Continue reading

Book Review: Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War by Viet Thanh Nguyen

All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory. In ‘Nothing Ever Dies’, Nguyen deals with the extensive ways of knowing and remembering wars in general, and delineates the identity crisis that arises from grappling with what some name the Vietnam War and what others would call the American War in Vietnam. Continue reading

“Coward, take my coward’s hand”: Mudbound (2017) and the legacy of Hollywood’s anti-racist returning veteran films

On a dusty, unpaved main street veteran Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) leaves the local general store serving the outpost Mississippi Delta community near his brother’s farm. Suddenly, he drops to the ground. The noise of a car backfiring has returned him to his recent combat experience as a bomber pilot. As local men eye him suspiciously, help is offered in the form of the outstretched hand of Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell). The offer draws reproach from the onlookers for its disruption of local customs and hierarchy. It is 1946 and, while Jamie is white, Ronsel is black. Continue reading

‘We cast these medals away as symbols of shame, dishonor, and inhumanity’: Veteran Protest and the Rejection of Cold War Patriotism

Part II: Anti-war Activism within the Military

Soldiers returning from the battlefields of World War II were treated as heroes and their sacrifice was celebrated long after their homecoming. By contrast, Vietnam veterans were not similarly welcomed home as champions of democracy. Indeed, some veterans felt there was not any honour in their participation in Vietnam. In 1967, a small group of likeminded veterans – simultaneously upset about the treatment of Vietnam veterans when they returned home and the particularly violent nature of the war – founded Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Continue reading

‘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