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How and why war and military culture have a traumatic impact on families and memory

The Wars We Inherit

Military Life, Gender Violence, and Memory

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Lori E. Amy

“By making the figure of the child central to the story of this book, the author charts out a dazzling path showing us how to draw lines of connection between the routine violence of a militarization and the routine if bewildering violence of the home. There is no easy way to describe how the voice of the child left me wounded even as I say how grateful I am for the author’s courage and restraint.”
Veena Das, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology and Professor of Humanities, Johns Hopkins University

By combining personal memoir and critical analysis, Lori Amy links the violence we live in our homes to the violence that structures our larger culture. The Wars We Inherit brings insights from memory and trauma studies to the story of violence in the author’s own family.

In this brave, fascinating, and compelling book, Amy confronts the brutality associated with the military. She explores how this institution of public, cultural violence with its hypermasculinity spills over, imbuing society with physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual aggression. Her portrait of her war-veteran father conveys the chaotic and dehumanizing impact of war, illustrating how families experience and remember violence.

Amy contends that “if we can begin, in our own lives, to transform the destructive ways that we have been shaped by violence, then we might begin to transform the cultural conditions that breed violence.”

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Excerpt

Read Chapter 1 (pdf).

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Reviews

"The Wars We Inherit [is] a groundbreaking addition to the literatures on trauma and gendered violence. Amy makes a unique contribution to the current literature on traumatic memory and survival. She presents her arguments effectively, and her story, clearly and courageously told, is both riveting and painful."
Cassie Premo Steele, Pushcart Prize–nominated poet and author of We Heal from Memory

"Amy breaks her silence to scrutinize family violence and teach methods for dealing with it....[S]he helps expose abuse she says is often hidden by the careful performances of both victims and abusers."
Publishers Weekly

"I have never, ever read anything like Lori E. Amy's The Wars We Inherit….Although I could put it down after I started it, I found myself reading it again the morning after I first picked it up—at five a.m., when I couldn't sleep....This is an extraordinary book...it belongs in every public library. Book groups should read it. Even if you don't agree with what the author is saying, I think you would have to agree that she is trying to be thoughtful and fair while she is saying it."
Citizen Reader

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Contents

Acknowledgments
1. Introduction
2. Frank and Sally
3. The Hole Things Fall Into
4. Forgetting and Re-membering
Interlude I: On the Event without a Witness
5. Re-membering II
Interlude II : On Bearing Witness
6. If I Should Die before I Wake
Interlude III : On Bearing Witness to the Process of Witnessing
7. The Pasts We Repeat I: Margaret
Interlude IV : The Uncanny Return
8. The Pasts We Repeat II : Jenny
9. If Our First Language Is the Silence of Complicity, How Do We Learn to Speak?
10. The Work of War
Interlude V: On the Violence of Nations in the Violence of Homes
11. Toward Re-membering a Future
12. The Work of Love
13. Conclusion
References
Web Sites
Index

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About the Author(s)

Lori Amy is Associate Professor in the Department of Writing and Linguistics at Georgia Southern University.

Subject Categories

Sociology
Gender Studies
General Interest

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