From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity

TitleFrom Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsBraudy, Leo
Number of Pages629
PublisherAlfred A. Knopf
CityNew York

This volume is an exploration of the conscious and unconscious ways in which European and American cultures have established an essential role for military and warrior virtue in defining masculinity. Beginning with the world of honor in the chivalric Middle Ages and ending in our age of global terrorism and limited war, the author shows how perceptions and images of masculinity have changed in relation to major wars, advances in military technology, mutations in the idea of the state and how it wages war, and shifting attitudes toward both sexuality and citizenship. Gathering insights from history, literature, and art--as well as from facts and fantasies about male sexuality—the author focuses on pivotal developments such as the revolution caused by gunpowder in the fifteenth century, by the mass armies of the eighteenth century, by the fears of national degeneracy in the nineteenth century, and by weapons of mass destruction in the twentieth century. At its heart, this volume is about the metamorphosis of masculinity; it is a powerful and persuasive argument against the assumption that all sexual behavior is innate. Countering the sociobiological emphasis on the fixity of human nature, it stresses human changeability and responsiveness to circumstances.

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