Robert Saxe

Associate Professor of History and Co-Director of Postgraduate Scholarships
(901) 843-3249

Teaching 

At Rhodes, I teach courses in 20th Century US history, specifically focusing on war and society and US politics.  In the majority of my classes, I try to base the course around a historical problem or set of questions for investigation. Was World War II truly a "Good War"? Does the American Dream truly exist or did it ever exist? What lead to American liberalism′s rapid success and its subsequent demonization by century′s end? By investigating these topics, I hope to give students a sense of the dynamic nature of historical investigation and encourage them to formulate their own opinions about this nation′s past.

Research

My book, Settling Down: World War II Veterans′ Challenge to the Postwar Consensus (Palgrave: December, 2007), explores the processes that muted the dissenting voices of returning World War II male veterans in the immediate postwar years and offers new understandings about the development of Cold War consensus.  My examination moves beyond the "Greatest Generation" image of the World War II generation to show how many vets felt alienated from the home front after the war and worried about their role in the postwar era.  In open-ended responses to the large American Soldier surveys conducted by the government and in the mass media of the immediate postwar years, servicemen often expressed their contempt for a home front that "didn′t know there was a war on."  To locate what happened to this veteran dissent that has been dissected from Greatest Generation understandings of World War II vets, I look at several case studies that show how a developing Cold War consensus, which vets both supported and rejected, led to gradual disappearance of soldier dissent.  Lt. John F. Kennedy′s congressional race in 1946, the image of the disgruntled vet in film noir, and anticommunist attacks on the liberal American Veterans Committee all suggest reasons why the Cold War led to the silencing of the nation′s heroes.  I also investigate the civil rights activism of African-American veterans to show that the Cold War consensus was not successful in eradicating all of the challenges brought by World War II vets.  By showing the disappearance of dissenting veterans′ voices, my book offers new insight into the growth of Cold War unity, but it also retrieves lost perspectives that both supported and undermined consensus. 

My current research focuses on the Clinton Crime Bill and I am also working on a Norman Mailer project.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

With Jeffrey H. Jackson, eds. The Underground Reader: Sources in the Transatlantic Counterculture (Berghahn, June 2015) 

"Settling Down": World War II Veterans′ Challenge to the Postwar Consensus (Palgrave-Macmillan, December, 2007).

"′Citizens First, Veterans Second′ – The American Veterans Committee and the Challenge of Postwar ′Independent Progressives′,” War and Society (October, 2004).

Education

M.A. and Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
B.A., Reed College