The War Complex: World War II in Our Time by Marianna TorgovnickThe War Complex: World War II in Our Time by Marianna Torgovnick

The War Complex: World War II in Our Time

byMarianna Torgovnick

Hardcover | May 1, 2005

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The recent dedication of the World War II memorial and the sixtieth-anniversary commemoration of D-Day remind us of the hold that World War II still has over America's sense of itself. But the selective process of memory has radically shaped our picture of the conflict. Why else, for instance, was a 1995 Smithsonian exhibition on Hiroshima that was to include photographs of the first atomic bomb victims, along with their testimonials, considered so controversial? And why do we so readily remember the civilian bombings of Britain but not those of Dresden, Hamburg, and Tokyo?

Marianna Torgovnick 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. Torgovnick also explores the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, the emotional legacy of the Holocaust, and the treatment of World War II's missing history by writers such as W. G. Sebald to reveal the unease we feel at our dependence on those who hold the power of total war. Thinking anew, then, 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.
Marianna Torgovnick is professor of English at Duke University and director of Duke’s New York Program in Arts and Media. She is the author of numerous works, including Primitive Passions: Men, Women, and the Quest for Ecstasy, Gone Primitive: Modern Intellects, Savage Lives, and Crossing Ocean Parkway, also published by the University...
Title:The War Complex: World War II in Our TimeFormat:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:May 1, 2005Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226808556

ISBN - 13:9780226808550


Table of Contents

Prologue: After 9/11
Introduction: Hiding in Plain Sight
1. D-Day
2. Eichmann's Ghost
3. Citizens of the Holocaust: The Vernacular of Growing Up after World War II
4. Unexploded Bombs
5. "They are ever returning to us, the dead": The Novels of W. G. Sebald
Conclusion: Toward an Ethics of Identification

Editorial Reviews

"Torgovnick serves as a kind of quirky and compelling guide on a walking tour of popular memory, drawing us in with her enthusiasm for her subject and provoking us to notice—and to think deeply about—the cultural and literary landscape of the post-World War II era."