"Dante, in Book II of his De Vulgari Eloquentia, wrote that 'the proper subjects for poetry are love, virtue, and war.' These are the wellsprings of Beidler's eloquent essays: public issues of love and virtue in times of war, particularly now, with our war in Iraq. Beidler is a former armored cavalry officer, 'a citizen-soldier' from a family line of soldiers. His contemporary America is a gigantic, amnesiac Gulliver, shipwrecked and stumbling into the new century, his ship's compass lost, and himself disabled by linguistic aphasia. Like Beidler's earlier books on war and culture, this is an important one."
—John Balaban, author of Remembering Heaven's Face and After Our War
"A superb piece of intellectual analysis—rigorous, caustic, poignant, bold in its thematic connections, both personal and historical in its scope, energetically written, and wholly convincing. There is no higher praise than to say that this book is a legitimate heir to the work of Paul Fussell and J. Glenn Gray."
—Tim O'Brien, author of July, July
As a writer, Philip D. Beidler has often drawn on his combat experience in Vietnam and his deep engagement with American popular culture. His essays tap these sources in powerful, truth-telling ways. In American Wars, American Peace, another voice emerges, distinct yet also tied to Beidler’s wartime memories and his love of literature, film, and music. It is the voice of one of the “baby-boom progeny of the ‘Greatest Generation’ who at home and abroad became the foot soldiers” not just in Vietnam but in the Peace Corps, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and beyond.
Beidler has experienced enough of history to question “the kinds of peace that one empire after another has tried to impose on the world at whatever immense costs.” As he reflects on terrorism, patriotism, geopolitics, sacrifice, propaganda, and more, Beidler revisits his generation’s “inherited vision of national purpose”--and he asks what happened. These essays are a sobering wake-up call for even the most informed and conscientious citizen.