Different Drummers
214 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:15 Sep 2020

Different Drummers

Military Culture and Its Discontents

Edited by Tad Tuleja
Utah State University Press
Different Drummers explores the disjunction between organizational solidarity and individual pushback in military organizations, examining how members of the armed forces express ambivalent attitudes about their service. The volume focuses not on antimilitary sentiment but on psychological complexity within a loyal opposition, considering examples of creative insubordination and analyzing the “oppositional positioning” of individuals whose military identity is conflicted.
This multidisciplinary collection brings in the perspectives of scholars from folklore, literary studies, psychology, and media studies, as well as the first-person perspectives of veterans. It includes chapters on the vernacular genres of bodylore, folksong, personal narrative, and legend; literary items like soldiers’ memoirs and poetry; the artwork of soldier cartoonists; and accounts of defying the chain of command in the field. Ideally, the goal of military basic training is to replace recruits’ focus on their own individuality with an unquestioned devotion to group solidarity. In reality, unit cohesion is constantly challenged by humans clinging obstinately to their non-collective personalities. Different Drummers focuses on those in uniform who feel themselves to be both of the military culture and at odds with it. It shows how these loyal “discontents” find ways of communicating and interacting with others that sometimes defy institutional expectations.
Ron Ben-Tovim, Carol Burke, Richard Allen Burns, Catherine Calloway, James I. Deutsch, Ronald Fry, Angus Kress Gillespie, Christina M. Knopf, Jay Mechling, Matthew David Perry, Mark C. Russell, John Paul Wallis
Different Drummers awakens readers to the rich potential of folklore scholarship when applied to the global concerns of combat, soldiering, PTSD, veterans’ life after war, and more. Veterans and members of their internet networks will discover a lot of value and personal meaning in these stories.’
—Suzanne MacAuley, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

‘A fascinating book that delves into the ‘disjunction between organizational solidarity and individual pushback.’’
—Journal of American Folklore


The son of a US naval officer, Tad Tuleja is a folklorist and freelance writer whose more than thirty books include American History in 100 Nutshells, The New York Public Library Book of Popular Americana, and Usable Pasts: Traditions and Group Expressions in North America. He collaborated with Eric A. Eliason on Warrior Ways: Explorations in Modern Military Folklore and with Ronald Fry on Hammerhead Six, the story of Fry’s Special Forces deployment in Afghanistan. He is the recipient of a Puffin Foundation grant for his war song cycle “Skein of Arms” and the author of the essay “Brotherhood of the Sea,” which appears in War, Literature, and the Arts.

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