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Date:         Fri, 26 Feb 1999 17:42:13 -0500
Sender:       WORLD WAR II FORUM 
From:         William Tuttle 
Subject:      William Tuttle's Opening Statement

Dear Colleagues,

Just this week, a group of prominent journalists and scholars ranked the
top 100 new events of the last 100 years.  Two of the top three events
related to America's involvement in the Second World War.  The top event
was the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which ended
the war in 1945.  Ranked number three was the Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor which launched the war in 1941.

 The Second World War was a worldwide struggle against racism,
imperialism, and genocide.  For that reason, some people have called it
"The Good War."  And since the United States was forever changed by the
war -- socially, economically, politically, and culturally -- some
scholars and journalists have called it a watershed in American history.

In teaching the history of the United States during the Second World
War, I have found not only that students respond well to the questions
of whether this was a good war or a watershed, but also -- and perhaps
more importantly -- that they begin to ask their own questions, such as,
"For whom was this a good war?"  "For whom was this a watershed?"  These
questions move the discussion away from abstract concerns and on to the
lives of the American people who fought the war abroad and at home.
These questions shift the focus to the lives, for example, of working
women during the war, to African Americans and other people of color, to
the 112,000 Japanese Americans who were interned, to farmers and
blue-collar workers, to children and teenagers, and to the more than 16
million men and women who served their country in the armed forces and
who were permanently changed, both positively and negatively, by the

We should also, I believe, consider the Second World War's lingering
impact on postwar America.  For example, what was the postwar impact of
the atomic bomb and the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union?  What
was the impact of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the GI Bill,
and the continued migration of African Americans from the South to the
cities of the North and West, and of Americans generally to the Sun
Belt?  What was the postwar impact of the war on popular culture, for
example, on war films from "The Best Years of Our Lives" to "Sands of
Iwo Jima," and from "The Longest Day" to "Saving Sergeant Ryan"?

Let me confess at the outset that I am not an expert on military or
diplomatic history, though I am deeply interested in the history of the
atomic bomb.  (I hope that some in this discussion group will be able to
offer suggestions for those who have questions about military or
diplomatic history.)  My strength is what was happening socially,
economically, politically, and culturally, that is, what was happening
on the American homefront, and how the homefront experience was shaped
by race, gender, age, class, religion, sexual orientation, and other

I have read the opening statements by the historians who have moderated
prior sessions of "Talking History."  They are very provocative, but I
would like to introduce this discussion of the Second World War a little
differently.  First, I would like to contend that the war was a
watershed in American history.  I recognize that this contention is
vulnerable to criticism, and I urge you to tear it apart.  Second, I
have prepared an annotated bibliography for your use.  I hope you find
it a helpful starting point.

I hope, too, that in our discussions you will talk about teaching
strategies and sources which you have found successful, including oral
history projects, specific films and audiovisual aids, other websites,
etc., and that you will discuss both practical problems and
conceptual/theoretical problems in teaching the history of the United
States during the war.  I want you to feel free to submit issues or
questions, and I hope that you will be encouraged to respond not only to
me, but to one another as well.

First, here is my annotated bibliography which discusses major
historiographical themes:

Anderson, Karen, Wartime Women: Sex Roles, Family Relations, and the
Status of Women During World War II, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981

Bernstein, Alison R., American Indians and World War II: Toward a New
Era in Indian Affairs, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991

Blum, John Morton, V Was for Victory: Politics and American Culture
During World War II, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976

Campbell, D'Ann, Women at War with America: Private Lives in a Patriotic
Era, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984

Clive, Alan, State of War: Michigan in World War II, Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press, 1979

Daniels, Roger, Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War
II, New York: Hill and Wang, 1993

O'Neill, William L., A Democracy at War: America's Fight at Home and
Abroad in World War II, New York: Free Press, 1993

Nash, Gerald D., The American West Transformed: The Impact of the Second
World War, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985

Polenberg, Richard, War and Society: The United States, 1941-1945,
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1972

Terkel, Studs, "The Good War": An Oral History of World War Two, New
York: Pantheon Books, 1984

Tuttle, William M., Jr., "Daddy's Gone to War": The Second World War in
the Lives of America's Children, New York: Oxford University Press, 1993

Wynn, Neil A., The Afro-American and the Second World War, New York:
Holmes & Meier, rev. ed., 1993

Few events have so electrified the United States as the Japanese attack
on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  Americans who lived during the
Second World War knew that that their world, and their lives, would
never be the same again -- and they never were.  How their lives did
change has been the subject of a rich body of historical writing.  In
recent years historians studying change on the homefront have shifted
their scholarly focus; instead of looking at the ostensibly united
homefront, they have disaggregated the population and examined how the
war affected different groups in society.  From this perspective, "The
Good War" is a much more complex phenomenon.

"The Good War" (1984) is the ironic title which TERKEL has given to his
popular oral history which demythologizes the Second World War.  These
interviews show that while patriotism was deeply held and goals were
widely shared, national unity papered over deep ethnic, religious, and
racial divisions, including the race riots that swept the country in
1943.  Rapid and immense social change on the home front was evident at
every hand from 1941 to 1945; there were millions of fathers going to
war, millions of mothers going to work in war factories, and millions of
families migrating from one part of the country to another.  The Second
World War resulted in victory for the United States and its allies, but
as recent histories of the homefront have demonstrated, the social costs
were high.

In addition to TERKEL, among the most perceptive and widely-read
histories of the homefront are POLENBERG, BLUM, and O'NEILL.  These
books all deal with people of color and with race relations as important
indicators of social strain during the war, but they should be
supplemented by other books.  Helpful studies of wartime civil rights
activism, race riots, and the black press have been published; the most
comprehensive general history of African Americans during the war is
WYNN.  There is also a rich body of literature, both scholarly and
autobiographical, on the Japanese-American internment.  The most recent
history by the leading scholar on the topic is DANIELS.  BERNSTEIN is
the first book-length study of American Indians during the war.

Scholars with an interest in social history have focused on how the war
affected women and children.  Histories disagree whether the war was "a
turning point" in American women's history.  Some contend that it was
because of the unprecedented job opportunities that arose in defense
industries.  ANDERSON sees continuity in the persistence of salary
discrimination against woman and of job segregation by sex as well as
race and class, but she also sees great change.  For her, the decision
of large numbers of married women, and mothers, to take war jobs, was "a
profoundly important event in American social history."  CAMPBELL
disagrees, contending that the war "did not mark a drastic break with
traditional working patterns or sex roles."  In presenting the
children's homefront history, TUTTLE examines father absence and father
return along with other aspects of girls' and boys' wartime lives,
emphasizing gender differences in their war games, schooling, popular
culture, and other experiences.  The war left an indelible imprint onthe
dreams and nightmares of an American generation not only in
childhood, but in adulthood as well.

The Second World War was a time of fundamental change on the homefront;
some scholars have called it a watershed period in United States
history.  Although the war usually did not initiate new changes, it
rapidly accelerated those already underway.  Appropriations for the war
lifted the country out of the Great Depression and stimulated the
building not only of defense plants, but of war-boom communities of
newly-arrived migrants.  CLIVE focuses on "the worker's war" in
Michigan, including the migration to Detroit of both African Americans
and whites from the South.  Not only cities and towns, but entire
regions of the country were changed by the war.  NASH shows how the war
transformed the American West socially and culturally.  It was also a
time of massive personal change.  BERUBE is an illuminating history of
gay men and lesbians who served their country in the war, and came out
in the process.  In this way and in countless others, Americans
discovered not only new talents and new horizons on the home front, but
also new identities.

Best, Bill Tuttle
Date:         Sun, 28 Feb 1999 17:28:07 -0800
Sender:       WORLD WAR II FORUM 
From:         "Robert W. Cherny" 
Subject:      Re: WORLDWARIIFORUM Digest -  to 26 Feb 1999 (#1999-1)
In-Reply-To:  <199902270456.UAA24686@diana.sfsu.edu>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

I've twice taught a senior seminar (the culminating experience for history
majors) on the impact of WWII on the West, and esp on California.  I've
found that it gives virtually every student the opportunity to find a
research topic of real interest.  So far, papers from that seminar have
developed into three senior honors theses and one MA thesis.

My most recent syllabus is on my website, at the URL below.  Just follow
the links to course syllabi and then to History 642.  I'd appreciate
comments on the syllabus, and I look forward to hearing about what the
rest of you do in classes on this topic.

Bob Cherny

  Robert W. Cherny           Website:  http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~cherny/
  Professor of History              Voice and messages:  (415) 338-7561
  San Francisco State University            Campus FAX:  (415) 338-7539
  San Francisco, CA  94132                   E-mail:  
Date:         Sun, 28 Feb 1999 21:40:36 EST
Sender:       WORLD WAR II FORUM 
From:         Yuriko Hirsch 
Subject:      Re: WORLDWARIIFORUM Digest -  to 26 Feb 1999 (#1999-1)
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
Content-transfer-encoding: 7bit

Thank you for your posting.

I am looking for literature similar to SADAKO AND THE 100 CRANES - a somewhat
biographical account of a primary school aged young girl in Hiroshima at the
time of the atomic bomb.

If anyone could recommend similar literature, 4th grade reading level for ESL
high school students.
Thank to everyone who has been posting related information!  I appreciate it