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Comparing public opinion about America’s wars from the Civil War to the continuing Iraqi and Afghan conflicts, Tierney synthesizes similarities into a perspective on the American way of war. He posits that socially deep-seated beliefs in liberalism and religion summon Americans to war, but that the catharsis of overthrowing enemies sets Americans up for disillusionment when foes reject the self-evident blessings of liberal democracy. Tierney’s first example of the crusading/nation-building pattern is not Vietnam but the war that inspired “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Its righteously militant lyrics exemplify the ideals and wrath that motivated the North; its popular adaptation in subsequent wars is one detail of crusading continuity among many that Tierney finds. Ditto Reconstruction: it’s the template of American nation building in that unrealistic aspirations to transform the South collapsed in public weariness with the effort. To break the crusading/nation-building cycle, Tierney advises a return to the limited-war attitudes of the Founders. Writing in colloquial style, this college professor accessibly frames questions arising from Iraq and Afghanistan about why victories have often been followed by occupations. --Gilbert Taylor
Praise for HOW WE FIGHT:
"Lucid and entertaining...A provocative analysis of why Americans love some wars and hate others." (Kirkus Reviews )
"A great theme, beautifully written and compellingly organized, it's a fitting update to Russell Weigley's classic [The American Way of War] and an important contribution to a national debate over the war in Afghanistan which is only gathering steam." (former Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, and currently Director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at RAND Ambassador James Dobbins )
"Writing in colloquial style, this college professor accessibly frames questions arising from Iraq and Afghanistan about why victories have often been followed by occupations." (Booklist Gilbert Taylor )
"Dominic Tierney's How We Fight: Crusades, Quagmires, and the American Way of War is an unusual achievement. It is a provocative scholarly book about the U.S. approach to war that was written for a broad non-academic audience...no one can dispute that his ambitious undertaking generates much-needed debate on a timely topic. That his writing is fluid and accessible makes it more likely that he will reach both scholarly and policy audiences." (George Washington University James H. Lebovic )
"Tierney's is a welcome voice in the trade press literature on American wars. He captures the essence of America's history of warfare and presents it in a digestible, yet sophisticated and historically rich way...interesting, engaging, compelling, and even entertaining to a broader audience." (Mt. Holyoke College Jon Western )
"How We Fight is an important contribution in itself and for the thinking it prompts in others." (Duke University Bruce W. Jentleson )
"[Tierney's] work here will be a useful addition to the literature of culture and war..." (Library Journal )