Uniforms by Paul Fussell
Why We Are What We Wear

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Synopsis

From Boy Scouts to soldiers, nurses to UPS workers, chefs to nuns, Paul Fussell describes, in sharp and telling anecdotes, the history and meanings of various uniforms. He reveals their secret language and unfolds their cultural significance. Focusing on the American scene, he holds up a mirror to the folks who head off to work each morning in regulated clothing and charts the fault lines of the desire for conformity and individuality. In examining the way uniforms unite and divide us, he ranges over the globe, describing, among other things, the Russian love of shoulder boards, the German obsession with black, and the Italian enthusiasm for feathered military hats. According to Fussell, we are what we wear, and sometimes our get-ups say surprising things.
Uniforms is vintage Fussell — a blend of vinegar and grace, of keen cultural insight and hilarious wit, equal parts spoof and illuminating social analysis.
 

About Paul Fussell

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Paul Fussell is the author of, among other works, Class and The Great War and Modern Memory, which won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named by the Modern Library as one of the twentieth century's one hundred best nonfiction books. He lives in Philadelphia.
 
Published November 1, 2002 by Houghton Mifflin. 204 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Above all, he says, uniforms suggest a profound human contradiction: “Each person senses the psychological imperative to dress uniformly and recognizably like others, while responding at the same time .

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Publishers Weekly

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Right from the start of this examination of the personal and cultural meanings of the wearing of uniforms, celebrated author Fussell (Class;

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Entertainment Weekly

At least he's always faithful to Thomas Carlyle's idea, quoted at the outset, that society ''is founded upon cloth.'' Originally posted Dec 13, 2002 Published in issue #686 Dec 13, 2002 Order article reprints

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