Restrained Response: American Novels of the Cold War and Korea, 1945-1962

By Arne Axelsson | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 9 Post-Korean Poise

The post-Korean scene in military novels shows some changes compared with the 1945-1953 period, apart from the increase in technological interest already treated at some length. One notable difference is that after Korea there are fewer "veteran's-return" stories, that is, novels dealing with the readjustment problems of homecoming veterans. (Two special cases, Condon The Manchurian Candidate and Morgan's One Star General, have been noted in chapter 3.) Historical circumstances account for most of the difference: fewer Americans participated in Korea, and a greater proportion of the Korean veterans were professionals or chose for other reasons to remain in the services after their stints in the war, like the decorated veterans in Peacock Valhalla, Roripaugh A Fever for Living, Drought Mover, Quirk No Red Ribbons, and Garrett Which Ones are the Enemy? The "forgotten" character of the war itself probably also had an impact- little public interest can be expected in problems of readjustment after a war that few people care about or even remember. Typically, in the novels mentioned, as in Mercer The Drummond Tradition, comparatively little use is made of the characters' experiences of the Korean War. At the same time it is not uncommon for authors of novels with no military connections or bearings to provide their protagonists with a past in the Korean War as a shorthand means of characterization or as a clue to certain reactions, relationships, and developments in the work. So do, for instance, Walker Percy in The Moviegoer ( 1961), Ken Kesey in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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