As John Jeffries observes in his new and cogent history of America during World War II, our view of the war has been shaped by two widely accepted perspectives: as a watershed in American history, as a “Good War” of national unity, virtue, and success. Searching for the reality behind these catchphrases, Mr. Jeffries finds a richer and more varied portrait of America at war, one that defies easy interpretation. If great changes came to American life, thy were not necessarily brought by the war; if the struggle seemed one of moral unity, not all Americans were equally wedded to the cause. In considering the nation's political economy and the effects of mobilization; the social and cultural mobility of wartime; the experiences of minority groups; the strains of domestic politics; and the influence of propaganda, Mr. Jeffries paints a picture of a people emerging from the Great Depression and eager for a better life, yet often reluctant to abandon the touchstones of their past. His succinct, informative history is a welcome contribution to our understanding of this crucial moment in the American experience.
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