Robert Saxe | Associate Professor
Office: 207 Buckman Hall | Phone: (901) 843-3249 | Email:



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.

I offer survey classes in the 20th Century United States History, US Foreign Affairs since 1890, 20th Century American Conservatism, and 20th Century American Liberalism. My research seminars are The Origins of Modern America, 1877-1918, Recent History of the United States, 1945-1989, Cold War America, Norman Mailer, and Post War America. More specialized topics classes include World War II American and Gender and American Warfare. I have had the pleasure to teach a class on the Vietnam War with Dean Michael Drompp.


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.


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


History 105 – Introductory Seminar: World War II America
History 151 – Crisis of American Civil Liberties
History 233 – United States in the 20th Century
History 246 – Gender and American Warfare
History 255 – Conservatism in the United States
History 256 – Liberalism in the United States
History 258 – US Foreign Affairs
History 300 – The Historian’s Craft: Methods and Approached to the Study of History
History 305 – Advanced Topics: The Vietnam War
History 356 – Cold War America
History 405 – Norman Mailer and Post World War II America
History 436 – The Origins of Modern America, 1877-1918
History 439 – Recent History of the United States, 1945-1989

Selected Publications

"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).