Imperial Brotherhood Questions

Imperial Brotherhood

John Legg and Henry Clay Adkins

  1.     Let’s start by chatting with the title. In many cases titles can reflect the book’s larger argument. What are your thoughts on Imperial Brotherhood?
  2.     Dean’s book hones in on the relationship between masculinity and warfare. What sort of characteristics made political leaders look “weak” compared to “strong?” How do politics and warfare entwine together during the Vietnam Era? Broadly speaking, what sort of masculine traits do we see about the Vietnam War itself, but also the policies that surround it?
  3.     Going deeper into masculinity: how did manhood and masculinity bring the United States into the Vietnam War? Was incessant moments grew to the need for Americans to enter into conflict throughout Southeast Asia? How does masculinity fit into the Cold War era more generally (hint a good place to discuss more on Costigliola’s article)?
  4.     How did John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson exert their masculinity? How did their backgrounds differ in the ways in which their policy reflected masculinity? [a more contemporary question: how do recent U.S. presidents challenge the assumption that in order to be a masculine politician you must have had to serve in the military?]
  5.     What is the Lavender Scare? How does homosexuality and the fear of communism intersect in Dean’s book?
  6.     How did elite policy makers – conservatives and liberals – come to define deviants? (we are thinking of page 67 here)
  7.     What can be said about the top-down structure of the “Imperial Brotherhood” elitist group in regards to the realities of the Vietnam War soldier?
  8.     How does Dean’s analysis and approach form? What sort of historiographical conversations does his book engage in?


Class Participation:

We’d like groups to break up and discuss these three prompts. Try to come up with specific examples to compare and contrast rather than broad connections with the books.

–       How does Dean’s book relate to Ann Little’s Abraham in Arms?

–       How does Dean’s book relate to Judith Butler’s concept of performativity?

–       How does Dean’s book relate to George Chauncey’s Gay New York?

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