Two studies of the Second World War that go beyond the battles and offer a glimpse at the people.

After the Great Depression the Second World War and its aftermath were the most profound events shaping the American mind as it closed out the 20th century and started the 21st. Most who participated in these events are either going or gone. Their children are entering into their later years and their grandchildren may live in a world shaped by these events but they have no true cognizance of them. These two books should provide a context for them to understand what the burdens of leadership were and what the burdens of living through the war were. General Ike is a ringing and inspiring testament to a great man by an accomplished historian. It is also a personal portrait of a caring father by his admiring son. Our Mothers’ War is a stunning and unprecedented portrait of women during World War II, a war that forever transformed the way women participate in American society.
General Ike : a personal reminiscence   John S. D. Eisenhower New York : The Free Press, c 2003  Generals United States Biography,    Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969 Military leadership Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xxi, 277 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [256]-258) and index. VG/VG   

General Ike is a book that John Eisenhower always knew he had to write, a tribute from an affectionate and admiring son to a great father. John chose to write about the “military Ike,” as opposed to the “political Ike,” because Ike cared far more about his career in uniform than about his time in the White House. A series of portraits of Ike’s relations with soldiers and statesmen, from MacArthur to Patton to Montgomery to Churchill to de Gaulle, reveals the many facets of a talented, driven, headstrong, yet diplomatic leader. Taken together, they reveal a man who was brilliant, if flawed naïve at times in dealing with the public, yet who never lost his head when others around him were losing theirs. Above all, General Ike was a man who never let up in the relentless pursuit of the destruction of Hitler.

Here for the first time are eyewitness stories of General Patton showing off during military exercises of Ike on the verge of departing for Europe and assuming command of the Eastern Theater of Churchill stewing and lobbying Ike in his “off hours.” Faced with giant personalities such as these men and MacArthur, not to mention difficult allies such as de Gaulle and Montgomery, Ike nevertheless managed to pull together history’s greatest invasion force and to face down a determined enemy from Normandy to the Bulge and beyond. John Eisenhower masterfully uses the backdrop of Ike’s key battles to paint a portrait of his father and his relationships with the great men of his time.

Our mothers’ war : American women at home and at the Front during World War II     Emily Yellin New York : Free Press, c 2004  World War, 1939-1945 Women United States Hardcover. 1st. ed., later printing. xiv, 447 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 415-428) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Never before has the vast range of American women’s experience during this pivotal era been brought together in one book. Now, Our Mothers’ War re-creates what American women from all walks of life were doing and thinking, on the home front and abroad.

Like all great histories, Our Mothers’ War began with an illuminating discovery. After finding a journal and letters her mother had written while serving with the Red Cross in the Pacific, journalist Emily Yellin started unearthing what her mother and other women of her mother’s generation went through during a time when their country asked them to step into roles they had never been invited, or allowed, to fill before.

Drawing on a wide range of sources, including personal interviews and previously unpublished letters and diaries, Yellin shows what went on in the hearts and minds of the real women behind the female images of World War II — women working in war plants; mothers and wives sending their husbands and sons off to war and sometimes death; women joining the military for the first time in American history; nurses operating in battle zones in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific; and housewives coping with rationing.

Yellin also delves into lesser-known stories, including: tales of female spies, pilots, movie stars, baseball players, politicians, prostitutes, journalists, and even fictional characters; firsthand accounts from the wives of the scientists who created the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, African-American women who faced Jim Crow segregation laws at home even as their men were fighting enemy bigotry and injustice abroad, and Japanese-American women locked up as prisoners in their own country. Yellin explains how Wonder Woman was created in 1941 to fight the Nazi menace and became the first female comic book superhero, as well as how Marilyn Monroe was discovered in 1944 while working with her mother-in-law packing parachutes at a war plant in Burbank, California.

Our Mothers’ War gives center stage to those who might be called “the other American soldiers.”


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