Stooksbury
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Evolving the Sensitive Soldier

World War II cast an enormous cultural shadow over American life.  It provided a backdrop for novels, television shows, and—especially—movies.  Like many boys who grew up in the decades after the war, I read about the conflict, traced my fingers across maps illustrating the U.S. island-hopping campaign in the Pacific, watched and rewatched war movies, and constructed models of P-51 Mustangs and B-17 bombers.

The Warrior Image examines how American culture viewed fighting men in the shadow of World War II, starting in the 1940’s when the war was in progress and running through 1978, when the Vietnam War films Coming Home and The Deer Hunter were released.  Andrew Huebner relied on press accounts, works of fiction, movies, and other media in writing his book.  He proposes that, while the perception of the soldier evolved over 30 years in the United States, the warrior image created during the “good war” had much in common with that of the war in Vietnam, even though public perception of the two wars was (and remains) entirely different.  He credits the Korean War with having played an important role in the evolution of that image.

The film industry, which began making movies about the U.S. role in World War II shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, was hugely influential in shaping the image of the war and its combatants.  Huebner focuses on movies that show the...

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