Marianna Torgovnick here argues that we have lived, since the end of World War II, under the power of a war complex—a set of repressed ideas and impulses that stems from our unresolved attitudes toward the technological acceleration of mass death. This complex has led to gaps and hesitations in public discourse about atrocities committed during the war itself. And it remains an enduring wartime consciousness, one most recently animated on September 11.
Showing how different events from World War II became prominent in American cultural memory while others went forgotten or remain hidden in plain sight, The War Complex moves deftly from war films and historical works to television specials and popular magazines to define the image and influence of World War II in our time. Thinking anew about how we account for war to each other and ourselves, Torgovnick ultimately, and movingly, shows how these anxieties and fears have prepared us to think about September 11 and our current war in Iraq.
“This book is wide-ranging, moving beyond American matters and authors. As a postmodernist critical approach, it succeeds in contextualizing American reactions to World War II by going deeper than national boundaries and impersonal narration.”—Eric Solomon, American Literature “A provoking and ethical book. . . . In an age when information is ephemeral, any book which recovers forgotten history is laudable.”—James Ervin, Rain Taxi