Unconventional Warriors
The Fantasy of the American Resistance Fighter in Television and Film
by Matthew B. Hill
February 2018, 217pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3504-9
$48, 40€, A69
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3505-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

If the United States has the most powerful army in the world, why are American soldiers depicted in film and television as the scrappy underdogs?

Tracing the "American Guerrilla" narrative through more than one hundred years of film and television, this book shows how the conventions and politics of this narrative influence Americans to see themselves as warriors, both on screen and in history.

American guerrillas fight small-scale battles that, despite their implications for large-scale American victories, often go untold. This book evaluates those stories to illumine the ways in which film and television have created, reinforced, and circulated an “American Guerrilla” fantasy—a mythic narrative in which Americans, despite having the most powerful military in history, are presented as underdog resistance fighters against an overwhelming and superior occupying evil. Unconventional Warriors: The Fantasy of the American Resistance Fighter in Television and Film explains that this fantasy has occupied the center of numerous war films and in turn shaped the way in which Americans see those wars and themselves.

Informed by the author’s expertise on war in contemporary literature and popular culture, this book begins with an introduction that outlines the basics of the “American Guerrilla” narrative and identifies it as a recurring theme in American war films. Subsequent chapters cover one hundred years of American “guerrillas” in film and television. The book concludes with a chapter on science fiction narratives, illustrating how the conventions and politics of these stories shape even the representation of wholly fictional, imagined wars on screen.


  • Identifies a recurring theme in American films and television from 1915 to the present: Americans fighting—and often winning—guerrilla wars against overwhelming and seemingly superior forces
  • Examines the cultural impact of these narratives as they reflect and reinforce American concepts of identity, particularly as they relate to historical or imagined war
  • Invites inquiry into the way in which Americans conceive of "war" and of "guerrillas"
  • Presents a relevant perspective in the present political and historical moment, in which the United States is increasingly and inextricably involved in conflicts around the world
Matthew B. Hill, PhD, is associate professor of English in the Humanities Department at Coppin State University in Baltimore, MD. His academic work centers on the representation of war in contemporary literature and popular culture. He is coeditor of The War on Terror and American Popular Culture. His work has appeared in publications such as War, Literature, and the Arts, The Journal of Popular Culture, Extrapolation, The Journal of American Culture, Romantic Circles, and The Mid-Atlantic Almanack.


" Hill is at his best when analyzing works from a range of mutually complementary perspectives. . . . Recommended."—Choice, December 1, 2018
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