War Narratives: Shaping Beliefs, Blurring Truths in the Middle East (Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series #163) (Hardcover)

War Narratives: Shaping Beliefs, Blurring Truths in the Middle East (Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series #163) Cover Image
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This is book number 163 in the Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series series.


Since the end of the draft in the United States, the nation’s wars have been fought by all-volunteer forces, creating an enormous divide between the civilian public and its military. Recent wars have taken place during the information age, allowing cable news and the “new media” of the internet to change, sometimes on a daily or even hourly basis, the way wars are understood. As a result, a multitude of competing and often flawed narratives have emerged that, ultimately, merely explain events in terms of self-serving political and cultural perspectives.

Author Caleb S. Cage, a veteran of the war in Iraq, brings a unique perspective to the understanding of how we talk about war. Why does the American public believe that those who served are somehow both heroes and victims, while the typical service member rarely embraces either identity? How does what happens on the front line get communicated to those back home, and what happens to that information as it travels? Is it possible that works of fiction are telling the most “real” versions of what is happening “over there”?

War Narratives is a tightly packed and provocative book containing a series of connected essays on the many competing narratives—both fiction and nonfiction—that are used to explain recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, how those narratives are perceived through preexisting social, political, and literary lenses, and how they often fall short. As Cage points out, narratives are not merely the stories shared or even how they are told; these expressions reflect choices.

About the Author

CALEB S. CAGE is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, and a veteran of the war in Iraq. He is the coauthor of The Gods of Diyala: Transfer of Command in Iraq and author of Desert Mementos: Stories of Iraq and Nevada. His writing has appeared in War, Literature, and the Arts; Red Rock Review; Small Wars Journal; and High Country News. He resides in Reno, Nevada.

Praise For…

“Cage demonstrates that what’s excluded from narrative is often as important as what’s included. Both veteran and scholar, Cage produces a vital global study so that, one hopes, we can avoid the most disastrous consequences of future interventions. Whether you accept or reject any of the predominant narratives shaping our understandings of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cage challenges the convenient assumptions supporting America’s bifurcated and destructive politics. He discovers complexities where others on both ends of the political spectrum willfully settle on simplicity and a corresponding, albeit false, sense of righteousness. War Narratives functions as a much-needed, level-headed compendium assessing U.S. war and reconstruction efforts in the 21st century.” —Bradley Summerhill, author of Gambler’s Quartet and Engaging Discourse, Volumes 1 and 2

— Bradley Summerhill

"Like Paul Fussell and Jim Webb before him, Caleb Cage has emerged from combat abroad keen on understanding why and how, and hell-bent on cleaving truth from distortion. War Narratives is a masterful collection of essays from a leading voice in modern American war lit. Anyone interested in our nation's terror wars and their lingering impact needs to read this book ASAP." —Matt Gallagher, author of Youngblood and Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War

— Matt Gallagher

"In an age where the word 'narrative' seems primarily to mean a convenient story stitched together to sell the reader on some orthodoxy, it's bracing to encounter Caleb Cage's refreshingly heterodox War Narratives. There's no spin here: just a series of sharply observed essays designed to help us understand the stories we've been told, and the stories we've told ourselves, about our nation's ongoing conflicts. A brave and valuable volume."—Pinckney Benedict, author of Dogs of God

— Pinckney Benedict

“Caleb Cage’s War Narratives does for our post-nine-eleven conflicts what Paul Fussell did for World War I in his iconic The Great War and Modern Memory: thoughtfully examines the literature a period has produced and then tells us how and why. Impeccably researched, nuanced, unafraid to look at complex questions, Cage reminds readers how, as Joan Didion put it, ‘we tell ourselves stories in order to live.’ And the human instinct to divine clear narratives is never more ardent then when lives are at stake.”—Lea Carpenter, author of Red, White, Blue and Eleven Days

— Lea Carpenter

Product Details
ISBN: 9781623497606
ISBN-10: 1623497604
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Publication Date: April 15th, 2019
Pages: 152
Series: Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series