Young Lions: How Jewish Authors Reinvented the American War Novel shows how Jews, traditionally castigated as weak and cowardly, for the first time became the popular literary representatives of what it meant to be a soldier and what it meant to be an American. Revisiting best-selling works ranging from Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead to Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, and uncovering a range of unknown archival material, Leah Garrett shows how Jewish writers used the theme of World War II to reshape the American public’s ideas about war, the Holocaust, and the role of Jews in postwar life. In contrast to most previous war fiction these new “Jewish” war novels were often ironic, funny, and irreverent and sought to teach the reading public broader lessons about liberalism, masculinity, and pluralism.
Leah Garrett is the Professor and Director of Jewish Studies at Hunter College, CUNY. She has published four books and numerous articles in Jewish cultural history. Her book Young Lions: How Jewish Authors Reinvented the American War Novel, about which she is lecturing, was shortlisted for the National Jewish Book Award, and won the prestigious Jordan Schnitzer book award in Modern Jewish History.