Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226637310 Will Publish August 2019
Cloth $82.50 ISBN: 9780226637280 Will Publish August 2019
An e-book edition will be published.

Total Mobilization

World War II and American Literature

Roy Scranton

Total Mobilization

Roy Scranton

288 pages | 12 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2019
Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226637310 Will Publish August 2019
Cloth $82.50 ISBN: 9780226637280 Will Publish August 2019
E-book $27.50 ISBN: 9780226637457 Will Publish August 2019
Since World War II, the story of the trauma hero—the noble white man psychologically wounded by his encounter with violence—has become omnipresent in America’s narratives of war, an imaginary solution to the contradictions of American political hegemony. In Total Mobilization, Roy Scranton cuts through the fog of trauma that obscures World War II, uncovering a lost history and reframing the way we talk about war today.
Considering often overlooked works by James Jones, Wallace Stevens, Martha Gellhorn, and others, alongside cartoons and films, Scranton investigates the role of the hero in industrial wartime, showing how such writers struggled to make sense of problems that continue to plague us today: the limits of American power, the dangers of political polarization, and the conflicts between nationalism and liberalism. By turning our attention to the ways we make war meaningful—and by excavating the politics implicit within the myth of the traumatized hero—Total Mobilization revises the way we understand not only World War II, but all of postwar American culture.
List of Figures
Introduction: A True War Story

Chapter 1: The Bomber
The Bomber Lyric
The Bomber as Scapegoat: Randall Jarrell’s “Eighth Air Force”
Atrocity Aesthetics: James Dickey’s “The Firebombing”
Agency and Death

Chapter 2: Repetitions of a Hero
The Negro Hero and the Nation within a Nation
The Hero as Social Media: The Caine Mutiny
Participating in the Heroic: Wallace Stevens and the Poetry of War
The Reality of the Modern State: The Thin Red Line

Chapter 3: War as Comedy
Zany Dialectics: “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips”
The Education of a War Poet: Kenneth Koch at War
Barbaric Poetry: From Okinawa to the Cold War
Encoding War: “Sun Out” and “The Islands”

Chapter 4: Total War and Historical Time
War as Origin Myth: Joan Didion’s Run River
War as a Promise to the Future: “Letter from Paradise, 21° 19′ N., 157° 52′ W.”
The Hanged Man and the Military-Industrial Complex: The Young Lions and Gravity’s Rainbow
One World, One War: The Great War and Modern Memory
War as Fantasy: Star Wars

Chapter 5: The Trauma Hero
Combat Gnosticism from Clausewitz to The Yellow Birds
Traumatic Revelation
“The Good War” and Postmodern Memory
Conclusion: Nothing Is Over

Works Cited
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