Armchair Warriors

Private Citizens, Popular Press, and the Rise of American Power

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This book is a history of public information and personal ideas, specifically ideas about war and the military over the last century. It examines the interplay between popular media coverage of the nation’s wars and the perceptions of ordinary Americans regarding military issues. Armchair Warriors begins with the premise that the press provided most Americans with their primary source of insight into the practical military problems confronting the United States. In a nation where military service was the exception rather than the rule, the public relied on news outlets to make sense of what war “really” was. Such articles and editorials not only celebrated the country’s successes in war, but also attempted to explain its setbacks, as well as the perils and opportunities that lay ahead. The American people responded to this abundance of information by taking an active role in the intellectual aspects of the nation’s military effort. Often encouraged by various media sources, ordinary citizens produced a wealth of proposals aimed at solving particular tactical or strategic conundrums.These armchair warriors often sidestepped the press, and sought to bring their ideas directly before those entrusted with directing U.S. armed forces.Together, the media accounts of military issues and the practical-minded suggestions from the masses constitute a heretofore unexamined nationaldialogue about one of the most important aspects of U.S. history.

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