American Wars, American Peace

Notes from a Son of the Empire

Title Details

Pages: 184

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 11/01/2007

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2969-7

List Price: $32.95

American Wars, American Peace

Notes from a Son of the Empire

Skip to

  • Description
  • Reviews

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.

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

This collection of essays by Philip Beidler is at once thoughtful and poignant, astonishing in the way that intelligent folks are irked and puzzled by clownish arrogance of our doofus national leaders, and ripe with the ironies that reverberate down to us, still, from our war in Vietnam. The writing is crisp and clean in the way of a master like George Orwell and helps us to cipher out the conundrums and contradictions of our modern American lives. Well done, Mr. Beidler. Tell us more.

—Larry Heinemann, author of Paco's Story, recipient of the National Book Award

Prescient, oracular and distressing essays on the national condition . . . Eclectic, personal, philosophical and meaningful, Phil Beidler does a great service with these cogent essays. For the 'obsolescents' among us who still think history and memory are critical to our collective well-being and to the future of our nation, I heartily recommend this book.

Mobile Press Register

An excellent set of essays . . . It's food for thought and debate for any college-level collection.


Beidler [is] one of the founding fathers of Vietnam War studies.

Contemporary Literature

About the Author/Editor

PHILIP D. BEIDLER is a professor of English at the University of Alabama. He has written or edited more than ten books. Beidler served as an armored cavalry platoon leader in Vietnam.