Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, Combat Death in Contemporary American Culture: Popular Conceptions of War since WWII, Lanham, Lexington Books, 2020.
Combat Death in Contemporary American Culture: Popular Cultural Conceptions of War since World War II explores how war has been portrayed in the United States since World War II, with a particular focus on an emotionally charged but rarely scrutinized topic: combat death. Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet argues that most stories about war use three main building blocks: melodrama, adventure, and horror. Monnet examines how melodrama and adventure have helped make war seem acceptable to the American public by portraying combat death as a meaningful sacrifice and by making military killing look necessary and often even pleasurable. Horror no longer serves its traditional purpose of making the bloody realities of war repulsive, but has instead been repurposed in recent years to intensify the positivity of melodrama and adventure. Thus this book offers a fascinating diagnosis of how war stories perform ideological and emotional work and why they have such a powerful grip on the American imagination.
Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet is professor of American literature and culture at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.