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From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity

Braudy, Leo

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ISBN 10: 0679450351 / ISBN 13: 9780679450351
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2003
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Hardcover in dustjacket. 8vo. First edition. Book is in fine condition, as is jacket. A tight, clean copy. Price-clipped. 613 pp. including index. Bookseller Inventory # 14693

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Bibliographic Details

Title: From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the ...

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, New York

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


From Chivalry to Terrorism is a brilliant exploration of the conscious and unconscious ways in which European and American cultures have established an essential role for military and warrior virtue in defining masculinity.

Beginning with the world of honor in the chivalric Middle Ages and ending in our age of global terrorism and limited war, Leo Braudy shows how perceptions and images of masculinity have changed in relation to major wars, advances in military technology, mutations in the idea of the state and how it wages war, and shifting attitudes toward both sexuality and citizenship.

Gathering insights from history, literature, and art—as well as from facts and fantasies about male sexuality—Braudy focuses on pivotal developments such as the revolution caused by gunpowder in the fifteenth century, by the mass armies of the eighteenth century, by the fears of national degeneracy in the nineteenth century, and by weapons of mass destruction in the twentieth century. He also examines less obvious topics such as the growth of sports and gymnastics, the impact of the American West on the national and international imagination, and the efforts of the promoters of a “civilized” male identity to distinguish it from the savage barbarian on the one hand and from women and minority forms of masculinity on the other.

Finally, he makes clear that the view of a renewed warrior masculinity is at the heart of the propaganda of the Islamic terrorists, as it was for Hitler and Mussolini. War is carried on in the name of a warrior past when men were truly men. The enemy is the West, where gender is a continuum rather than the absolute set of differences between male and female that the warrior sensibility requires. The war against terrorism is thus less a literal war about territory and resources than it is a symbolic war about how men should be and behave.

In writing this unique history of masculinity, Braudy discusses both real and imagined characters. Among them are Don Quixote, Henry V, Oliver Cromwell, Don Juan, Frederick the Great, Napoleon, Custer, T. E. Lawrence, Osama bin Laden, and the heroes of Stephen Crane and Ernest Hemingway.

At its heart, From Chivalry to Terrorism is about the metamorphosis of masculinity; it is a powerful and persuasive argument against the assumption that all sexual behavior is innate. Countering the sociobiological emphasis on the fixity of human nature, it stresses human changeability and responsiveness to circumstances.

From the Back Cover:

"From Chivalry to Terrorism is history at its most powerful. It is impossible to do justice to the range of fascinating material in this book. If you want to know about things as diverse as pornography or pacifism, male domesticity or military training, novels or machines, nationalism or athletics, romance or religion, pirates or highwaymen, you can look here....[Readers] will find Braudy to be one of the most exciting chroniclers of war's history. In this, he follows in the tradition of scholars Paul Fussell, Eric J. Leed, George L. Mosse and Jay Winter. And like these fine writers, he fundamentally alters military history, by acknowledging that the border between 'military' and 'civilian' is constantly in flux."
--Joanna Bourke, professor of history at the University of London's Birkbeck College and the author of An Intimate History of Killing: Face to Face Killing in 20th Century Warfare, writing for Los Angeles Times

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Warwick Books, is an Internet-only bookseller that specializes in hard-to-find books for avid readers and collectors. Many of our books are out of print. Specialties include literature, signed firsts, art and photography, design, illustrated books, cookbooks, field guides, children's books, needlecraft books, and Americana. We recently acquired a large private collection of books on military history. The focus is on World War II as well as aviation history. Warwick Books is a member of IOBA, the Independent Online Booksellers Association.

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