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2018 | 9 "Memory, Melancholy and Nostalgia" | 9-20

Article title

“It’s a War I Still Would Go To”: The American War in Vietnam and Nostalgic Re-Imaginings of World War II


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4th International Interdisciplinary Memory Conference “Memory, Melancholy and Nostalgia” (17-18 Semptember, 2015 in Gdansk)

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In this article, I trace the process through which World War II (WWII) has become the „good war” in American culture. Drawing on a range of books and articles published on the subject —and often written by the war’s veterans—I summarize their findings considering the essentially mythical nature of the conflict’ common memory. The well-known aspects of this myth include the view that WWII was a straightforward struggle between good and evil, that the U.S. soldiers who fought it belonged to “the greatest generation,” and that it was ultimately an expression and activization of American honor, heroism, and gallantry. Further on, I argue that beginning in the 1980s, a resurgence of cultural interest in WWII becomes evident, but now tinged not only with the emerging image of “the good war,” but also with nostalgia—and that the “nostalgization” of the conflict was caused directly by, and indeed possible only because of, the U.S. experience in Vietnam. I trace the multifaceted and multiple references to WWII in Vietnam War narratives—but also to Vietnam in some nostalgic representations of WWII.


  • University of Silesia in Katowice (Poland), Institute of English Cultures and Literatures


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