John Morton Blum, V Was for Victory (1976)
Themes in U.S. History, 1914-1945
- In V Was for Victory, noted cultural historian John Morton Blum examines the social impact on the homefront of U.S. involvement in World War II. In tracing this impact, Blum addresses the use of advertising and propaganda to "sell" the war to the American public as well as the creation of the GI as a heroic figure in American culture. He illustrates American attitudes toward immigrants--German-Americans, Italian-Americans, and Japanese- Americans--from the countries which became the Axis enemies, as well as toward Jewish refugees. He traces the rise of African-American consciousness and racial tensions such as those reflected in the Detroit race riot of 1943. He examines the rise of economic prosperity within the wartime economy, as well as the changes in social relations wrought by war production.
- Questions to Think About:
- 1) What sorts of sources does Blum use? What are the limitations and strengths afforded in his reliance on these particular sources?
2) Blum argues in his preface that this is not a history of the homefront,. but instead an examination of "some of the ways in which American politics an American culture interacted." How does he illustrate this point? Is he successful at showing the interactions? Does he successfully define the differences between culture and politics?
3) What are the predominant images that you had of World War II before you read this book? Have those images changed? Do you have new images, or different thoughts about the images that you did have?
4) World War II is often referred to as "The Good War." What, according to Blum, was so good about it? Does that appelation seem accurate to you as an historian?
Further resources for studying the impact of World War II on American culture and politics:
- The National Archives' Exhibit about the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, including recordings of Fraklin Roosevelt's request to Congress to declare war on Japan.
- The National Archives' Exhibition, A People at War.
- Library of Congress' Women Come to the Front site.
- Professor Lavender's Rosie the Riveter page.
- The National Archives' Exhibition, Powers of Persuasion, on war propaganda posters during World War II.
- Library of Congress's American Memory Project's Color Photographs from the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information site.
- The National Archive's Exhibition about the Surrender of Japan at the end of World War II.
- For a view of the controversies that raged over the Smithsonian Institution's planned Enola Gay exhibit, see the Enola Gay Perspectives site.
- For a perspective on the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, see the Voice of Hibakusha site.
- Check out the San Francisco Exploratorium's Remembering Nagasaki site.
Prepared by Professor Catherine Lavender for History 339 (Themes in U.S. History, 1914-1945), The Department of History, The College of Staten Island of The City University of New York. Send email to email@example.com
Fall Semester 1997. Last modified: Tuesday 2 December 1997