The authors argue that American patriotism is a civil religion organized around a sacred flag, whose followers engage in periodic blood sacrifice of their own children to unify the group. Using an anthropological theory, this groundbreaking book presents and explains the ritual sacrifices and regeneration that constitute American nationalism, the factors making particular elections or wars successful or unsuccessful rituals, the role of the mass media in the process, and the sense of malaise that has pervaded American society during the post-World War II period.
1. Introduction; 2. That old flag magic; 3. Theorizing the flagbody; 4. The totem myth; 5. Death touchers and border crossers; 6. Totem memory and succession; 7. Refreshing the borders; 8. Dismemberment and reconstruction; 9. Fresh blood, Public meat; 10. One size fits all; 11. Epilogue; Appendix 1. The flag in life: Representational politics of the Stars and Stripes David W. Ingle and Carolyn Marvin; Appendix 2. Representative coding categories.
"This is a book for those who are willing to examine some of their most basic assumptions about what it means to be an American. ...well written..." Choice