Cover: A Democracy at War: America’s Fight at Home and Abroad in World War II, from Harvard University PressCover: A Democracy at War in PAPERBACK

A Democracy at War

America’s Fight at Home and Abroad in World War II

Product Details


$35.00 • £30.95 • €31.95

ISBN 9780674197374

Publication Date: 07/21/1998


512 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

31 halftones


Add to Cart

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

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.—Douglas Brinkley, The Houston Chronicle

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.—John Patrick Diggins, The New Leader

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.—George Q. Flynn, American Historical Review

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.—Dianne Kirby, Borderlines: Studies in American Culture

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.—Stephen E. Ambrose, author of Nixon, Volume 2: The Triumph of a Politician, 1962–1972 and Nixon, Volume 3: Ruin and Recovery, 1973–1990

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.—E. J. Dionne, Jr., author of Why Americans Hate Politics

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, by Peter Wilson, from Harvard University Press

A Lesson in German Military History with Peter Wilson

In his landmark book Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, acclaimed historian Peter H. Wilson offers a masterful reappraisal of German militarism and warfighting over the last five centuries, leading to the rise of Prussia and the world wars. Below, Wilson answers our questions about this complex history,