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A Warring Nation

Honor, Race, and Humiliation in America and Abroad
Bertram Wyatt-Brown

BUY Cloth · 256 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813934747 · $29.95 · Jan 2014
BUY Ebook · 256 pp. · ISBN 9780813934754 · $29.95 · Jan 2014

In this culminating work of a long and distinguished career, historian Bertram Wyatt-Brown looks at the theme of honor—a subject on which he was the acknowledged expert—and places it in a broader historical and cultural context than ever before.

Wyatt-Brown begins with the contention that honor cannot be understood without considering the role of humiliation, which not only sets victor apart from vanquished but drives the search for vindication that is integral to notions of honor. The American conception of honor is further deepened by issues of race. The author turns to the slave South to show how white and black concepts of honor differed from and contradicted each other, illuminating honor’s elusive but powerful role in our society.

He then goes on to explore these themes within a wide range of military and political contexts, from the Revolutionary War to Desert Storm, providing new insights on how honor drove decision making during many defining events in our history that continue to reverberate in the American mind.


An intellectual enterprise of the highest seriousness and importance. Bertram Wyatt-Brown brings a new breadth and depth of comprehension to the history of honor as a system of values of profound importance in American history.

David Hackett Fischer, Brandeis University, author of Washington’s Crossing

Wyatt-Brown is well-known for his work on Southern honor, but here he reaches far beyond his earlier books to offer new insights on the connection of honor, racism, and humiliation to other events in our history. Sparks go off in multiple directions throughout as the book reveals a talented historian at his best.

Jean Baker, Goucher College, author of Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion

In A Warring Nation, Wyatt-Brown updates his central theme of Southern honor with a deeply researched examination of the complex ways Southern honor and military honor are intertwined. He masterfully traces honor and shame from colonial America through both world wars and into the Second Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan. This is a rich and vivid work, well-wrought and powerful, as Wyatt-Brown again brilliantly challenges us to rethink our understanding of Southern honor and the American character.

Orville Vernon Burton, Clemson University, author of The Age of Lincoln

A Warring Nation is a final, thought-provoking study from one of our most creative historians.

Journal of Southern History

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