========================================================================= Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 17:42:13 -0500 Reply-To: WORLD WAR II FORUM
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 experience. 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 factors. 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 Reply-To: WORLD WAR II FORUM 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 Reply-To: WORLD WAR II FORUM 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 all.