A characteristic feature of the years following World War II--immediately apparent from a study of military novels--is that the political development made heavier demands on the adaptability of the American military than during most other periods in history. First there was the change from wartime operations to occupation duties, then the dismantling of great parts of the military machine no longer considered necessary, a process no sooner completed than it had to be reversed to provide manpower for Korea. At the same time, America's old friends and foes exchanged places, as Germany and Japan gradually became American allies against the new main adversary and former ally, the Soviet Union. Also, the strategic implications of nuclear weaponry were beginning to affect the very nature of war. Coupled with the political doctrine of containment, the superpower equilibrium brought to the fore the concept--soon also the practice-- of limited war.
Many writers of military novels take advantage of the dramatic possibilities inherent in occupation and war settings and some draw on the development inside the United States for material. The Korean War novels will be treated in part two of the study, whereas this chapter and the two following will discuss works dealing with the peacetime role of the U.S. military, in European, Far Eastern, and American settings, respectively, from the end of World War II to the end of the Korean War. These areas are dominated by questions of civilian-military interchange and coexistence, complicated by the