To Die For: The Paradox of American Patriotism / Edition 1

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Overview

July Fourth, "The Star-Spangled Banner," Memorial Day, and the pledge of allegiance are typically thought of as timeless and consensual representations of a national, American culture. In fact, as Cecilia O'Leary shows, most trappings of the nation's icons were modern inventions that were deeply and bitterly contested. While the Civil War determined the survival of the Union, what it meant to be a loyal American remained an open question as the struggle to make a nation moved off of the battlefields and into cultural and political terrain.

Drawing upon a wide variety of original sources, O'Leary's interdisciplinary study explores the conflict over what events and icons would be inscribed into national memory, what traditions would be invented to establish continuity with a "suitable past," who would be exemplified as national heroes, and whether ethnic, regional, and other identities could coexist with loyalty to the nation. This book traces the origins, development, and consolidation of patriotic cultures in the United States from the latter half of the nineteenth century up to World War I, a period in which the country emerged as a modern nation-state. Until patriotism became a government-dominated affair in the twentieth century, culture wars raged throughout civil society over who had the authority to speak for the nation: Black Americans, women's organizations, workers, immigrants, and activists all spoke out and deeply influenced America's public life. Not until World War I, when the government joined forces with right-wing organizations and vigilante groups, did a racially exclusive, culturally conformist, militaristic patriotism finally triumph, albeit temporarily, over more progressive, egalitarian visions.

As O'Leary suggests, the paradox of American patriotism remains with us. Are nationalism and democratic forms of citizenship compatible? What binds a nation so divided by regions, languages, ethnicity, racism, gender, and class? The most thought-provoking question of this complex book is, Who gets to claim the American flag and determine the meanings of the republic for which it stands?

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
This study is not only well researched but also a sprightly written account of the development of modern American patriotism. . . . This is truly a work 'to die for.'
Journal of Military History
Well written . . . O'Leary makes an important contribution to a growing body of scholarship that seeks to understand the vital role that rituals and symbols have played in the development of American nationalism.
Civil War History
[To Die For] has many thought-provoking insights. . . . The best chapters in O'Leary's synthetic work are those on the Americanization of children and the detailed description of the GAR and WRC, in which soldiers and the women who nursed them, fed, and sewed for them readjusted to the union.
Journal of American Ethnic History
O'Leary's work breaks much new ground. To Die For belongs on any list of indispensable books for historians of ethnicity.
— John McClymer
Journal of American Ethnic History - John McClymer
O'Leary's work breaks much new ground. To Die For belongs on any list of indispensable books for historians of ethnicity.
From the Publisher

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1999

"This study is not only well researched but also a sprightly written account of the development of modern American patriotism. . . . This is truly a work 'to die for.'"--Choice

"Well written . . . O'Leary makes an important contribution to a growing body of scholarship that seeks to understand the vital role that rituals and symbols have played in the development of American nationalism."--Journal of Military History

"[To Die For] has many thought-provoking insights. . . . The best chapters in O'Leary's synthetic work are those on the Americanization of children and the detailed description of the GAR and WRC, in which soldiers and the women who nursed them, fed, and sewed for them readjusted to the union."--Civil War History

"O'Leary's work breaks much new ground. To Die For belongs on any list of indispensable books for historians of ethnicity."--John McClymer, Journal of American Ethnic History

R.J. Goldstein
O'Leary especially stresses the role of organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the United Confederate Veterans in deliberately constructin and avidly promoting a patriotic rewriting of United States history.
Choice Magazine
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691070520
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 9/25/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 366
  • Product dimensions: 6.17 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgements
Ch. 1 "To Make a Nation" 3
Ch. 2 "Dyed in the Blood of Our Forefathers": Patriotic Culture before the Civil War 10
Ch. 3 "When Johnny Comes Marching Home": The Emergence of the Grand Army of the Republic 29
Ch. 4 "Living History": Crafting Patriotic Culture within a Divided Nation 49
Ch. 5 "Oh, My Sisters!": Shifting Relations of Gender and Race 70
Ch. 6 "Mothers Train the Masses - Statesmen Lead the Few": Women's Place in Shaping the Nation 91
Ch. 7 "One Country, One Flag, One People, One Destiny": Regions, Race, and Nationhood 110
Ch. 8 "Blood Brotherhood": The Racialization of Patriotism 129
Ch. 9 "I Pledge Allegiance...": Mobilizing the Nation's Youth 150
Ch. 10 "The Great Fusing Furnace": Americanization in the Public Schools 172
Ch. 11 "Clasping Hands over the Bloody Divide": National Memory, Racism, and Amnesia 194
Ch. 12 "My Country Right or Wrong": World War I and the Paradox of American Patriotism 220
Notes 247
Bibliography 313
Index 343
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