As America fought to defend democracy in Europe and Asia during World War II, its own democratic politics both aided and impeded the war effort at home and the military campaigns abroad. Now, in a broad-ranging social, political, military, and diplomatic history, William O’Neill reveals how the United States won its victory despite its reluctance to enter the war, and despite proceeding by costly half-measures even after committing to battle.
A grand and sensitive synthesis of what the war meant to an entire generation and of how unity, valor, and victory came only after a period of profound unpreparedness, confusion, and reluctance. O’Neill writes with vivid clarity.
An excellent book…perceptive and sensitive…bears resemblance to Tolstoy’s great novel War and Peace, not as literature but as a humane perspective that juxtaposes the average soldier who fights on bravely and stoically to generals and political leaders who make a mess of things.
A distinct and splendid historical style… O’Neill writes with wit and clarity… He offers new and colorful treatment of such topics as immigration policy, women and the war, films and other entertainments, minorities, and labor relations. His chapter on ‘everyday life’ is a minor masterpiece in which he repeatedly captures a new trend in a pithy phrase.
O’Neill has written, with passion and vivid clarity, a wide ranging social, cultural, political, military and diplomatic history which examines ‘how and why America won the war’ despite its late entry, cumbersome political system and debilitating prejudices… The result of this ambitious project is a grand synthesis which draws on many of the scholarly texts, biographies and memoirs generated by this momentous period, as well as contemporary media accounts and published correspondence… Written with warmth and humour, indignation and outrage, and with a profound affection for America’s democratic culture, O’Neill has produced an informative synthesis which raises important questions about American democracy and the relationship in it between popular opinion, electoral ambitions and policymaking.
Bill O’Neill is a master storyteller, and this is his biggest story in his distinguished career. He makes it into his masterpiece. This is the best single volume on the American experience in World War II that I have read.
World War II not only transformed the world but also revolutionized America. It fundamentally changed work and family life, race relations, the economy, and the federal government’s view of its responsibilities. It is thus a cause for celebration that William O’Neill has brought his large gift for evocative narrative and shrewd analysis—as well as his affection for America’s democratic culture—to such a pivotal period in American history.
- 512 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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