The War Complex: World War II in Our Time
An exploration of the cultural memory of World War II with attention to facts that have all but disappeared from contemporary understandings of war history in America. By probing cultural representations of four large topics - D-Day, Adolf Eichmann’s war crimes trial, memories of thinking about Germany and the Holocaust, and the incendiary and atomic bombings - the book uncovers what I call the war complex: an unresolved (and perhaps unresolvable) attitude towards mass death, produced by human volition, often under government and political auspices, marked by technological speed, affecting civilians, and sometimes not just killing, but burning or vaporizing bodies -a combination that has been one of the most troubling legacies of World War II. With lapses during periods of Soviet-US detente and especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the war complex lingered after 1945, ready to condition reactions to 9/11. The book sees the war complex at work in the memory of World War II and in the evolving cultural memory of September 11.