Postwar culture and anxiety over the reintegration of veterans into American society

Millions of GIs returned from overseas in 1945. A generation of men who had left their families and had learned to kill and to quickly dispatch sexual urges were rapidly reintegrated into civilian life, told to put the war behind them with cheer and confidence. Many veterans struggled, openly or privately, with this transition. Others in society wondered what the war had wrought in them. As Erin Lee Mock shows in this insightful book, the “explosive” potential of men became a central concern of postwar American culture.

This wariness of veterans settled into a generalized anxiety over men’s “inherent” violence and hypersexuality, which increasingly came to define masculinity. Changed Men engages with studies of film, media, literature, and gender and sexuality to advance a new perspective on the artistic and cultural output of and about the “Greatest Generation,” arguing that depictions of men’s violent and erotic potential emerged differently in different forms and genres but nonetheless permeated American culture in these years. Viewing this homecoming through the lenses of war and trauma, classical Hollywood, pulp fiction, periodical culture, and early television, Mock shows this history in a provocative new light.
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