Susan L. Carruthers: Victors, Vanquished, and Victims: US Occupation Soldiers in Postwar Europe and Asia

American soldiers in Treves, Germany. The American Army of occupation is here seen passing the Kaiser Platz. Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.

How do you know you’ve won a war? What sensations and experiences are bound up with being victorious? Superficially, it might seem that there would be little new to say on this subject. After all, aren’t victors the ones empowered to write history? But this cliché ignores the subjectivity of US enlisted men, women, and soldiers of colour, many of whom quickly came to feel that they were victims of an uncaring military establishment and of unfortunate circumstances after World War II.

This lecture draws on extensive research undertaken for my book, The Good Occupation: American Soldiers and the Hazards of Peace (Harvard University Press, 2016). Using the letters and diaries of American military personnel, I aim to offer a textured account of the lived experience of occupation, complicating the postwar myth that American beneficence readily remade Germany and Japan as exemplary democratic polities.

Susan Carruthers is Professor of History, University of Warwick. Her work focuses on representations of war and the ways in which individuals, and societies more broadly, make sense of conflict and its aftermath. She is the author of several books, including The Good Occupation, The Media at War, Cold War Captives and Winning Hearts and Minds. Her expertise in the media and war, cold war culture, and colonial counterinsurgency spans the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.


East Asian Studies


18 March 2019, 5.00pm - 6.30pm


Sarah Miller-Davenport
Phone: +44 114 222 2599
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