The U.S. Military in the Print News Media

The U.S. Military in the Print News Media

Service and Sacrifice in Contemporary Discourse

By Dr. Luke Peterson

This book analyses the history of the popular discourse in the United States concerned with the U.S. military and its engagement in foreign wars from the Spanish-American War through to the U.S. invasions of Iraqand the War on Terror.

Hardback, 236 Pages


April 2024

£80.00, $110.00

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About This Book

This book circumscribes both news media and popular cultural discourse dealing with the U.S. military, including its attendant industries, personnel, and leadership, over the course of a century and a half of American war. This book encompasses an analysis of American introspection, or lack thereof, describing the tone, content, lexicon, and spirit of media coverage of the American military in its engagements from the Spanish American War through to U.S. wars of choice in Iraq and the War on Terror. This work establishes conclusions about the overall way in which American media producers see the U.S. military and, in turn, describes the powerful and dynamic parameters of a discourse on the U.S. military in the public consciousness of the United States as well as international observers during the course of the last 125 years.

This new monograph is, therefore, positioned to provide an innovative and carefully researched view into the linkages between discourse and politics and between culture and policies within the United States looking at various critical moments in the history of the development of the American Empire. Ultimately, this research provides insight into the complex interrelationships between policy, the military, discourse, and culture focusing upon the power centres of discourse creation while connecting previously disjointed lines of historical and media research considering the United States and its imperial and military reach throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century.

Potential benefits of the proposed research project are manifest within its innovative approach to the study of discourse construction, its broad historical vision and its multifaceted methodological approach applying the precepts of history, critical discourse analysis, political science, and media and communication studies. Further benefit from the proposed project includes the pioneering analysis it offers about the U.S. military itself, an institution which is routinely spared time under the critical lense of academic researchers given its primacy of place within the popular, contemporary American imagination. Through this unflinching analysis, this work is both viable and timely given the current geopolitical position of the United States at the apex of global political developments, and possibly, according to some researchers, at the beginning of the end of its military imperium.


“Few volumes are able to succinctly articulate the entrenchment of the military-industrial complex within the U.S. media landscape. Peterson not only accomplishes that with nuance and sophistication, his ability to focus on the discursive power of militarization in the legacy print establishments across three countries is truly exemplary. This book is essential reading to unpack how and why print media coverage of the U.S. military contributes to the continuation of the status quo and how that informs the country’s military engagements, investments, agreements, and policies both within the country and worldwide. Despite catering to an academic audience, this book should be required reading in newsrooms more so than classrooms.” —Adel Iskandar, Associate Professor of Global Communication, and Director, Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies (CCMS)

“Through a critical analysis of 100 years of U.S. newspapers, Luke Peterson shows how the media perpetuates empire by deceiving the public about the morality of U.S. wars, the military, and the government itself. In the tradition of Edward Said and Noam Chomsky, Peterson uncovers the role of the media in manufacturing consent for empire by analyzing the coverage of U.S. military interventions from 1898 to 2003. It is a politically urgent, empirically grounded, myth-busting analysis.” —Andy Clarno, University of Illinois at Chicago

“Peterson deftly strips away the façade of dominant discourses that support the media’s coverage of American military interventions to demonstrate how such narratives help shape the public consciousness of war and warfare. Robust in scale and scope, Peterson’s contribution is required reading for anyone interested in the military-media nexus.” —James A. Tyner, Professor of Geography, Kent State University

Author Information

Luke Peterson is a professor of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


No series for this title.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; One Empire, Language, and Discourse: The U.S. Military in the Public Imagination; Two Fin de Siècle: The Beginnings of American Empire; Three World War I: American Service ; Four World War II: The Good War; Five America in Vietnam; Six Iraq Part I: Sanitized War, Ubiquitous Patriotism; Seven Iraq Part II: Invasion, Occupation, and Imperial Overreach; Eight Selling the Drama: Culture, Media, the Military, and the American Self; Appendix A: Print News Media Articles Analyzed in Chapter Two, Fin de Siècle: The Beginnings of American Empire; Appendix B: Print News Media Articles Analyzed in Chapter Three, World War I: American Service; Appendix C: Print News Media Articles Analyzed in Chapter Four, World War II: The Good War ; Appendix D: Print News Media Articles Analyzed in Chapter Five, America in Vietnam; Appendix E: Print News Media Articles Analyzed in Chapter Six, Iraq Part I: Sanitized War, Ubiquitous Patriotism; Appendix F: Print News Media Articles Analyzed in Chapter Seven, Iraq Part II: Invasion, Occupation, and Imperial Overreach; Index


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