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This essay argues that literary authors generally resisted the glorifying impulse that designated World War II “the Good War,” including importantly those authors who were part of this generation. Literary texts did pay tribute to those who fought against Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, or showed the courage, determination, and fortitude that the military effort entailed. These texts also showcased the deprivation on the home front, and the ways in which women and African Americans contributed to the war. However, while literary texts have inspired movies and television scripts that support the “Good War” narrative, war poetry and prose consistently emphasize the complexity, horror, and absurdity of World War II. The most enduring literary works nuanced or negated the master narrative of “Greatest Generation” and “The Good War,” even before these were coined.
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