Which comes first--war or masculinity? The complex and shifting relationship between the two is the subject of this provocative selection, which reads as both military history and an exploration of gender. Braudy is interested in what it is to be a man, particularly in wartime, and how the technological evolution of warfare has altered what makes a male a man. Understanding masculine sexual identity is the key, he argues, particularly in the early modern period, when stirrings of female emancipation led to fear of impotence and inadequacy, while gunpowder simultaneously blew battlefield honor into new forms. Pirates, cowboys, adventurers, and sports figures all emerge as the modern world's masculine archetypes, and manliness in combat becomes a new way of coping with the madness of war. Criticizing innate notions of masculinity while praising the nobility of manliness' many mutable forms, Braudy's synthesis is intelligent and wide ranging (T. E. Lawrence and seventeenth-century pornography only rarely appear in the same volume). Its gender-identity-based analysis of present-day wars is also timely and appropriate. Brendan DriscollCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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“History in the grand manner, pulled off with brilliance, wonderful imagination and considerable erudition. . . . Fascinating.” — The Washington Post Book World
“History at its most powerful. It is impossible to do justice to the range of fascinating material in this book.” –Los Angeles Times Book Review
“The reader is left marveling. . . . An expansive, ambitious project.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“A terrific topic . . . The book displays Braudy’s loving immersion in his subject, fine grasp of historical complexity, and aversion for glib or dogmatic judgments.” –The New York Times Book Review
“A vivid, hugely ambitious book . . . Likely to be widely read.” –The New York Review of Books