In this new literary history of early American veterans, Benjamin Cooper reveals how soldiers and sailors from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War demanded, through their writing, that their value as American citizens and authors be recognized. Relying on an archive of largely understudied veteran authors, Cooper situates their perspective against a civilian monopoly in defining American citizenship and literature that endures to this day.
"Veteran Americans makes a contribution to the growing body of literature on the experiences of American war veterans and their efforts to wrestle with the meaning of participation in great violence. Refreshingly, Cooper approaches veterans as the subjects of their own stories—as opposed to objects acted upon by some combination of trauma, bureaucracy, or society."—Brian Matthew Jordan, author of Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War
"Cooper's book makes a significant contribution to the study of U.S. literature and social history. The scholarship here is wide-ranging, capacious, and deeply engaged with current historical and critical debates in the field."—Dana D. Nelson, author of Commons Democracy: Reading the Politics of Participation in the Early United States
"In this fresh, incisive book, Cooper compellingly argues that veteran literature is not only a discrete and significant genre in its own right; it also recasts our understanding of American literature's production, consumption, and evolution. Cooper's prose is crisp and forceful."—Cody Marrs, author of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Long Civil War
"This is an ambitious book which covers one hundred years of literary history and highlights dozens of texts. Cooper is well versed in both larger trends within nineteenth century literary studies and in the scholarship of the better-known writers he includes."—Journal of Veterans Studies
"[A] fascinating and wide-ranging look at writings by and about veterans . . . The work is a well-written and significant contribution to the field of early popular literature and print culture and to our understandings of postwar societies."—Early American Literature
"Cooper is invested in the ways in which literary representations of going to war and coming home have the potential to help us reimagine the republic and its war-making apparatus. [His] study is animated by 'what makes an American citizen and who has the authority to write about and remember war . . . One of the most provocative aspects of Cooper's investigation is his insistence that the right to narrate one's story and to have it heard is fundamentally constitutive of American citizenship."—Elizabeth D. Samet, American Literary History