by Aaron George
Rutgers University Press, 2024
eISBN: 978-1-9788-2160-6 | Paper: 978-1-9788-2156-9 | Cloth: 978-1-9788-2157-6
Library of Congress Classification PS129.G46 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 810.935211

When Cowboys Come Home: Veterans, Authenticity, and Manhood in Post–World War II America is a cultural and intellectual history of the 1950s that argues that World War II led to a breakdown of traditional markers of manhood and opened space for veterans to reimagine what masculinity could mean. One particularly important strand of thought, which influenced later anxieties over “other-direction” and “conformity,” argued that masculinity was not defined by traits like bravery, stoicism, and competitiveness but instead by authenticity, shared camaraderie, and emotional honesty. To elucidate this challenge to traditional “frontiersman” masculinity, Aaron George presents three intellectual biographies of important veterans who became writers after the war: James Jones, the writer of the monumentally important war novel From Here to Eternity; Stewart Stern, one of the most important screenwriters of the fifties and sixties, including for Rebel without a Cause; and Edward Field, a bohemian poet who used poetry to explore his love for other men. Through their lives, George shows how wartime disabused men of the notion that war was inherently a brave or heroic enterprise and how the alienation they felt upon their return led them to value the authentic connections they made with other men during the war.

See other books on: 1924- | Authenticity | Masculinity in literature | Men's Studies | Veterans
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