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Montgomery in the Good War

Portrait of a Southern City, 1939-1946

Wesley Phillips Newton, Allen Cronenberg

Publication Year: 2000

Montgomery in the Good War is a richly textured account of a southern city and its people during World War II.
Using newspaper accounts, interviews, letters, journals, and his own memory of the time, Wesley Newton reconstructs wartime-era Montgomery, Alabama--a sleepy southern capital that was transformed irreversibly during World War II.
The war affected every segment of Montgomery society: black and white, rich and poor, male and female, those who fought in Europe and the Pacific and those who stayed on the home front. Newton follows Montgomerians chronologically through the war from Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima as they experience patriotism, draft and enlistment, rationing, scarcity drives, and the deaths of loved ones. His use of small vignettes based on personal recollections adds drama and poignancy to the story.
Montgomery in the Good War is an important reminder that wars are waged at home as well as abroad and that their impact reverberates well beyond those who fight on the front lines. Those who came of age during the war will recognize themselves in this moving volume. It will also be enlightening to those who have lived in times of relative peace.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Cover Page

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p. 1-1

Title Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

Two persons were vital to completion of the manuscript that became this book. Merlin Owen Newton, my wife, has played a key role in the creation of every book I have published. A fine historian with a prize-winning book of her own, Merlin read the manuscript chapter by chapter ...

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Introduction - Allen Cronenberg

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pp. xv-xxx

World War II had a profound impact on America, including Alabama and the rest of the American South, and perhaps shaped society even more than the Civil War. Such was the view cautiously advanced a little more than a decade ago by Morton Sosna.1 ...

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1. The City at the Start of the War

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pp. 1-24

The Advertlser headline of September 1 struck the reader with explosive force:" HITLER UNLEASHES 'WAR DOGS' ON POLAND; GUNS ROAR ON THE BORDER."1 The event that triggered the twentieth century's second world war had taken place at 5:30 A.M. European time, or 10:30 P.M. on Thursday night Montgomery time. ...

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2. The Advent of Pearl Harbor

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pp. 25-55

The Nazis conquered much of Poland, and the Russians took over the rest. Then came the lull known as the Phony War between the French and British Allies and the Germans. The renewed German Blitzkrieg saw the conquest of Denmark, Norway, the Low Countries, and finally France. ...

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3. The Creation of Citizen Armed Forces

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pp. 56-75

Montgomery-area draft boards were geared to the increasing demands of the armed forces in 1942. The Registrants' Advisory Board, whose function was to help potential draftees fill out a questionnaire after registration, met periodically with Judge Walter B. Jones at the county courthouse. ...

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4. Montgomerians Head Overseas

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pp. 76-95

Two categories of service people eventually underwent the sometimes tedious, sometimes exciting process of readying to move overseas. One group consisted of members of an existing organization stationed somewhere in the zone of the interior or of the crew of a naval vessel assigned to a port in the zone of the interior ...

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5. The Emergence of the Home Front

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pp. 96-120

Without a well-organized and well-functioning home front, successful war fronts would have been impossible. Montgomery was not an industrial city before the war, and no significant war industry as such was established there during the war. The surrounding county had agriculture, essential to a war effort; ...

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6. The Black Community in Montgomery and Abroad

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pp. 121-140

The mistreatment in general of black citizens of the United States during "the Good War," besides being fueled by bigotry, continued to reflect legal segregation of the races in the former Confederate South. Elsewhere segregation was more de facto than de jure. Detroit, however, witnessed one of the war's largest race riots. ...

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7. Life and Death at Home

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pp. 141-167

In the United States the two most popular transmitters of entertainment were generally the radio and the cinema, or the picture show, as the latter was known in Montgomery. War did not change this fact. In the recent gloomy past both media had offered relatively cheap diversion from the depression blues. ...

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8. OVERLORD and Aftermath

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pp. 168-193

Since the early part of the war, the Western Allies had given Europe first priority in their military planning, but British resistance to a direct thrust across the English Channel into France delayed a "second front" for two years. Meanwhile an invasion ofItaly via North Africa and Sicily in 1943 proved no substitute.1 ...

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9. From the Bulge to Victory in Europe

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pp. 194-222

When Montgomerians in the army left the ports of embarkation for Europe after D-Day, their mental picture of what lay ahead was conditioned by newsreels and Why We Fight, the Frank Capra documentary series shown in basic training. The film's images kindled no real fear but only a momentary interest ...

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10. The End of the War

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pp. 223-245

Montgomerians in the occupation forces perceptively described Europe at the war's end for readers at home. A writer who asked not to be identified wrote a letter to the Advertiser from Nuremberg, where "there's a continuous stream of refugees ... on the main streets. ...

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pp. 246-260

A nationwide coal strike diverted attention from events overseas in late 1945 and the first half of 1946. Such events included the Bikini Atoll A-bomb experiments, the beginning of the Nuremberg and Japanese war crimes trials, the crisis affecting the British and the Jews in Palestine, ...


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pp. 261-296


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pp. 297-306


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pp. 307-321

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384876
E-ISBN-10: 0817384871
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817356323
Print-ISBN-10: 0817310436

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 32 illustrations
Publication Year: 2000