Movies have provided a record of the war veteran as he was viewed within his own culture and within the culture in which the movies were produced. Thus, movies account for a significant portion of what people "know" about the war veteran and how he fared during and after the war. In this book, the author examines 125 movies from the classical era to the 20th century that feature the war veteran.
The author provides commentary on specific categories the films can be organized into and notes similarities between films produced in different periods. The categories deal with the wounded veteran returning home (e.g., The Sun Also Rises, The Best Years of Our Lives, Born on the Fourth of July, The Manchurian Candidate); the veteran struggling with guilt, revenge and post-traumatic stress disorder (Anatomy of a Murder, Lethal Weapon, Desert Bloom, In Country, Jacob's Ladder); the war veteran returning in disguise (Ulysses, Ivanhoe, The Seventh Seal, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit); the war veteran as a social symbol (Dances with Wolves, Gosford Park, The Legend of Bagger Vance, The Big Chill, Gods and Monsters, Cornered); the war veteran in action (The Born Losers, Conspiracy Theory, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Saint Jack, Looking for Mr. Goodbar); and the war veteran before, during and after the war (The Deer Hunter, Forrest Gump).