Elizabeth D. Samet reexamines the literature, art, and culture that emerged after World War II, bringing her expertise as a professor of English at West Point to bear on the complexity of the postwar period in national life.
... magisterial ... there is nobility in celebrating the U.S. victory in a just war and honoring those who served. Samet reaffirms that truth while forcing our attention on a more complicated reality ... The downside of Looking for the Good War is that it occasionally becomes a bombardment of cultural references, as if Samet cannot help finding validation for her arguments everywhere; stretches of the book are devoted to film and book summaries. But the strength of this approach is to remind us that there has always been an alternative to the simplistic mythmaking around World War II and its impact on our national psyche ... And it’s clear that the more recent War on Terror was colored from the outset by World War II’s grip on our national consciousness, even if its reality has tracked closer to the nuanced accounts of war explored by Samet’s canon of countercultural voices.
... a stirring indictment of American sentimentality about war ... Samet is a fine writer with a gift for powerful arguments articulated in elegant prose ... Samet’s survey of books and movies that she consumed to try to discover a truer sense of the World War II years is intriguing reading. One senses that this was new territory for a writer who was born a generation after the war. She writes about these movies and novels like an anthropologist discovering cultural artifacts ... That a West Point professor is comfortable making such harsh judgments is a striking sign of our interesting times.
... compelling, enlightening and elegantly written ... This richly rewarding and thought-provoking book splashes World War II history across a broad canvas, with insightful discussions of the works of Homer and Shakespeare and the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln. Along the way, Samet convincingly argues that we should reflect on our current relationship to war in the light of wars past.