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Fallen Elites: The Military Other in Post–Unification Germany

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288 pages6 hours

Summary

Military officers are often the first to be considered politically dangerous when a state loses its authority. Overnight, actions once considered courageous are deemed criminal, and men once praised as heroes are redefined as villains. In Fallen Elites, Andrew Bickford examines how states make soldiers and what happens to fallen military elites when they no longer fit into the political spectrum.

Gaining unprecedented entry into the lives of former East German officers in unified Germany, Bickford relates how these men and their families have come to terms with the shock of unification, capitalism, and citizenship since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Often caricatured as unrepentant, hard-line communists, former officers recount how they have struggled with their identities and much-diminished roles. Their disillusionment speaks to global questions about the contentious relationship between the military, citizenship, masculinity, and state formation today. Casting a critical eye on Western triumphalism, they provide a new perspective on our own deep-seated assumptions about "soldier making," both at home and abroad.

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