Monthly Archives: August 2013

Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better… George Santayana

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All-out for victory! : magazine advertising and the World War II home front  John Bush Jones  Waltham, Mass. : Brandeis University Press ; Hanover [N.H.] : Published by University Press of New England, c 2009  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xi, 314 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 24 cm.     Includes bibliographical references (p. [297]-298) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II, many commercial advertisers and their Madison Avenue ad agencies instantly switched from selling products and services to selling the home front on ways to support the war.

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Ads by major manufacturers showcased how their factories had turned to war production, demonstrating their participation in the war and helping people understand, for instance, that they couldn’t buy a new washing machine because the company was making munitions. Other ads helped civilians cope with wartime rationing and shortages by offering advice on how to make leftovers tasty, make shoes last, and keep a car in good working order. Ads also encouraged Victory Gardens, scrap collecting, giving blood, and (most important) buying War Bonds.

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In this book, Jones examines hundreds of ads from ten large-circulation news and general-interest magazines of the period. He discusses motivational war ads, ads about industrial and agricultural support of the war, ads directed at uplifting the morale of civilians and GIs, and ads promoting home front efficiency, conservation, and volunteerism. Jones also includes ads praising women in war work and the armed forces and ads aimed at recruiting more women. Taken together, war ads in national magazines did their part to create the most efficient home front possible in order to support the war effort.

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The Westerly Wind asserting his sway from the south-west quarter is often like a monarch gone mad, driving forth with wild imprecations the most faithful of his courtiers to shipwreck, disaster, and death… Joseph Conrad

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Treachery at Sharpnose Point : unraveling the mystery of the Caledonia’s final voyage  Jeremy Seal  New York : Harcourt, c 2001  Hardcover. 1st ed. Maps of the English coast, including the Bristol Channel on endpapers. 316 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [309]-313). Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG  

NPG D35614; Robert Hawker by William Blake, published by  A.A. Paris, after  John Ponsford

While walking through a cliff-top graveyard in the town of Morwenstow on the coast of Cornwall, the author encounters a wooden Scottish figurehead that once adorned the Caledonia, a ship wrecked on the English coast in 1842. Through further investigation, Seal begins to suspect the townspeople, and chiefly the town’s parson, Robert Hawker, for the Caledonia’s demise on the jagged shores below.

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Though no one has ever been brought to court for “wrecking” – luring ships ashore to loot the cargo – it’s a commonly held belief that this sort of cruelty did take place. But, is that what happened in Morwenstow? Having meticulously researched maritime logs, broadsides of the day, and other first-hand documents, Seal weaves history, travelogue, and imaginative reconstruction into this marvelous piece of detective work, bringing us a mystery of the best kind – the sort that really did happen.

Comments Off on The Westerly Wind asserting his sway from the south-west quarter is often like a monarch gone mad, driving forth with wild imprecations the most faithful of his courtiers to shipwreck, disaster, and death… Joseph Conrad

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A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled to, and less than that no man shall have… Theodore Roosevelt

The GI Bill : a new deal for veterans  Glenn C. Altschuler, Stuart M. Blumin  Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2009  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xi, 246 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [215]-236) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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On rare occasions in American history, Congress enacts a measure so  far-reaching and revolutionary, it enters the language as a metaphor. Perhaps none resonates in the American imagination like the G.I. Bill.

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Historians Glenn C. Altschuler and Stuart M. Blumin offer an often surprising account of the G.I. Bill and its sweeping and decisive impact on American life. Formally known as the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, it was far from an obvious, straightforward piece of legislation, but resulted from tense political maneuvering and complex negotiations. As Altschuler and Blumin show, an unlikely coalition emerged to shape and pass the bill, bringing together both New Deal Democrats and conservatives who had vehemently opposed Roosevelt’s social-welfare agenda. For the first time in American history returning soldiers were supported by what was essentially a social welfare program – a revolution in America’s policy towards its veterans.

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Once enacted, the G.I. Bill had far-reaching consequences. By providing job training, unemployment compensation, housing loans, and tuition assistance, it allowed millions of Americans to fulfill long-held dreams of social mobility, reshaping the national landscape. The huge influx of veterans and federal money transformed the modern university and the surge in single home ownership vastly expanded America’s suburbs. Perhaps most important, as Peter Drucker noted, the G.I. Bill “signaled the shift to the knowledge society.” The authors highlight unusual or unexpected features of the law – its color blindness, the frankly sexist thinking behind it, and its consequent influence on race and gender relations. Not least important, Altschuler and Blumin illuminate its role in individual lives whose stories they weave into this thoughtful account.

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Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles… Frank Lloyd Wright

L.A. noir : the struggle for the soul of America’s most seductive city  John Buntin  New York : Harmony Books, c 2009  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xii, 419 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [349]-408) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Midcentury Los Angeles. A city sold to the world as “the white spot of America,” a land of sunshine and orange groves, wholesome Midwestern values and Hollywood stars, protected by the world’s most famous police force, the Dragnet-era LAPD. Behind this public image lies a hidden world of “pleasure girls” and crooked cops, ruthless newspaper tycoons, corrupt politicians, and East Coast gangsters on the make. Into this underworld came two men – one L.A.’s most notorious gangster, the other its most famous police chief – each prepared to battle the other for the soul of the city.

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Former street thug turned featherweight boxer Mickey Cohen left the ring for the rackets, first as mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s enforcer, then as his protege. A fastidious dresser and unrepentant killer, the diminutive Cohen was Hollywood’s favorite gangster – and L.A.’s preeminent underworld boss. Frank Sinatra, Robert Mitchum, and Sammy Davis Jr. palled around with him; TV journalist Mike Wallace wanted his stories.

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William H. Parker was the proud son of a pioneering law-enforcement family from the fabled frontier town of Deadwood. As a rookie patrolman in the Roaring Twenties, he discovered that L.A. was ruled by a shadowy “Combination” – a triumvirate of tycoons, politicians, and underworld figures where alliances were shifting, loyalties uncertain, and politics were practiced with shotguns and dynamite. Parker’s life mission became to topple it – and to create a police force that would never answer to elected officials again.

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These two men, one morally unflinching, the other unflinchingly immoral, would soon come head-to-head in a struggle to control the city – a struggle that echoes unforgettably through the fiction of Raymond Chandler and movies such as The Big Sleep, Chinatown, and L.A. Confidential.

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For more than three decades, from Prohibition through the Watts Riots, the battle between the underworld and the police played out amid the nightclubs of the Sunset Strip and the mansions of Beverly Hills, from the gritty streets of Boyle Heights to the manicured lawns of Brentwood, intersecting in the process with the agendas and ambitions of J. Edgar Hoover, Robert F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X. The outcome of this decades-long entanglement shaped modern American policing – for better and for worse – and helped create the Los Angeles we know today.

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A fascinating examination of Los Angeles’s underbelly, the Mob, and America’s most admired – and reviled – police department, L.A. Noir is an enlightening, entertaining, and richly detailed narrative about the city originally known as El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles, “The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels.”

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They went with songs to the battle, they were young. Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted, They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:  Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.  At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.

Coming out of war : poetry, grieving, and the culture of the world wars  Janis P. Stout  Tuscaloosa : University of Alabama Press, c 2005  Hardcover. xxii, 270 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [251]-260) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

World War I is widely considered “the Great War” and World War II, “the Good War.” Janis Stout thinks of them as two parts of a whole that continues to engage historians and literary scholars searching for an understanding of both the actual war experiences and the modern culture of grief they embody. Poetry, of all the arts, Stout argues, most fully captures and conveys those cultural responses.

While probing the work of such well known war poets as Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen, and Randall Jarrell, Stout also highlights the impact of the wars on lesser studied, but equally compelling, sources such as the music of Charles Ives and Cole Porter, Aaron Copland and Irving Berlin. She challenges the commonplace belief that war poetry came only from the battlefield and was written only by men by examining the wartime writings of women poets such as Rose Macaulay, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, and Gwendolyn Brooks. She also challenges the assumption that World War II did not produce poetry of distinction by studying the work of John Ciardi, Karl Shapiro, Louis Simpson, Robert Frost, and Wallace Stevens. While emphasizing aesthetic continuity between the wars, Stout stresses that the poetry that emerged from each displays a greater variety than is usually recognized.

A final chapter considers Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem as a culmination and embodiment of the anti-war tradition in 20th-century poetry and music, and speculates on the reasons why, despite their abundance and eloquence, these expressions of grief and opposition to war have effected so little change.

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