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History > Military History > World War II

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Cataclysm Cover

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Cataclysm

General Hap Arnold and the Defeat of Japan

Herman S. Wolk

In Cataclysm, Herman S. Wolk examines the thinking and leadership of General Henry H. (Hap) Arnold, Commanding General, Army Air Forces (AAF), during World War II. Specifically, Wolk concentrates on Arnold’s role in crafting the weapons, organization, and command of the strategic bombing offensive against Japan. The B-29 long-range bombing campaign against the Japanese home islands dictated unprecedented organization and command; hence, Arnold established the Twentieth Air Force, commanded by himself from Washington and reporting directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Arnold excelled in his command of the AAF, relieving a long-time colleague (Hansell) in favor of a hard-nosed operator (LeMay). This crucial move was a turning point in the Pacific War. In the spring and summer of 1945, Arnold was a driven leader, almost willing the B-29 campaign and the air and sea blockade to collapse Japan before the scheduled massive invasion of Kyushu on November 1st. Arnold agreed that politically the atomic bomb shocked the Japanese to capitulation, but as the architect of the bombing offensive, he emphasized that Japan was already defeated in the summer of 1945 by the bombing and blockade, and that it was not militarily necessary to drop the atomic bomb. Wolk brings out important rationales and connections in doctrine, organization, and command not previously published. He also mines sources not previously exploited, including the author’s interviews with General LeMay, Hansell, and Eaker; Arnold’s wartime correspondence; documentation from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library; and postwar interrogations of Japanese officials and civilians. Cataclysm will prove an important addition to the history of the Pacific War, airpower, and the debate over the use of the atomic bomb against Japan.

Cause Greater than Self Cover

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Cause Greater than Self

The Journey of Captain Michael J. Daly, World War II Medal of Honor Recipient

Stephen J. Ochs  

A privileged, hell-raising youth who had greatly embarrassed his family—and especially his war-hero father—by being dismissed from West Point, Michael J. Daly would go on to display selfless courage and heroic leadership on the battlefields of Europe during World War II. Starting as an enlisted man and rising through the ranks to become a captain and company commander, Daly’s devotion to his men and his determination to live up to the ideals taught to him by his father led him to extraordinary acts of bravery on behalf of others, resulting in three Silver Stars, a Bronze Star with “V” attachment for valor, two Purple Hearts, and finally, the Medal of Honor. Historian Stephen J. Ochs mined archives and special collections and conducted numerous personal interviews with Daly, his family and friends, and the men whom he commanded and with whom he served. The result is a carefully constructed, in-depth portrait of a warrior-hero who found his life’s deepest purpose, both during and after the war, in selfless service to others. After a period of post-war drift, Daly finally escaped the “hero’s cage” and found renewed purpose through family and service. He became a board member at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he again assumed the role of defender and guardian by championing the cause of the indigent poor and the terminally ill, earning the sobriquet, “conscience of the hospital.” A Cause Greater than Self: The Journey of Captain Michael J. Daly, World War II Medal of Honor Recipient is at once a unique, father-son wartime saga, a coming-of-age narrative, and the tale of a heroic man’s struggle to forge a new and meaningful postwar life. Daly’s story also highlights the crucial role played by platoon and company infantry officers in winning both major battles like those on D-Day and in lesser-known campaigns such as those of the Colmar Pocket and in south-central Germany, further reinforcing the debt that Americans owe to them—especially those whose selfless courage merited the Medal of Honor.

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Chaplain's Conflict

Good and Evil in a War Hospital, 1943-1945

Tennant McWilliams

As chaplain for the US Army's 102nd Evacuation Hospital in the European Theater, Renwick C. Kennedy--"Ren" to those who knew him--witnessed great courage, extreme talent, and many lives snatched from the precipice of death, all under the most trying conditions. He also observed drug and alcohol abuse, prejudice, narrow-mindedness, and chronic depression. What he saw, he chronicled in his journal, and what he wrote, he processed with an intellectual and ethical rigor born of his remarkably sophisticated worldview and his deeply held Christian faith. With Kennedy's war diaries and postwar articles published in Christian Century and Time magazines in front of him, historian Tennant McWilliams spent a year retracing every step, every turn, every location of the 102nd in wartime France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany, compiling rich detail on this episode in Kennedy's life. McWilliams's interviews with citizens of France and Luxembourg who recall the 102nd further revealed local people's reactions to the army hospital that illuminated both Kennedy's severe criticism and his enduring praise for evac life. The result is a candid view of what went on in the World War II evac hospitals. With a nuanced and gritty style, The Chaplain's Conflict shatters the self-interested and sometimes sentimental images of evacs held by some among the medical community. This complex and compelling observation of doctors practicing war-zone medicine in World War II will hold great appeal for readers of military and medical history, as well as those interested in the socio-cultural, ethical, and religious implications of war and military service.

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Chelmno and the Holocaust

The History of Hitler's First Death Camp

Patrick Montague

This work is a comprehensive history of the Chelmno camp, located in Poland, which the author argues was a template for other, better known and documented Nazi camps devoted exclusively to the “Final Solution” for Europe’s Jews and others. The manuscript is largely a descriptive narrative, packed with detail, rather than an analytical study. This is appropriate because there has been heretofore very little known about and documented on Chelmno. Montague has been indefatigable in gathering information from Polish, Israeli, English, German, and other archives. This book aims to stand as the standard work on the Chelmno camp.

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Chewing Gum, Candy Bars, and Beer

The Army PX in World War II

James J. Cooke

Veterans of World War II have long sung the praises of the PX—a little piece of home in far-flung corners of the world. Though many books on that war tell of combat operations and logistics in detail, this is the first to tell the full story of the Army Exchange System.

 

The AES was dedicated to providing soldiers with some of the comforts they had enjoyed in civilian life—candy, beer, cigarettes, razor blades, soap—whether by operating an exchange close to where they were fighting or by sending goods forward to the lines, free of charge. The beer may have been only “3.2,” but it was cheap and, unlike British beer, was served cold, thanks to PX coolers. And a constant supply of cigarettes and chewing gum gave GIs an advantage when flirting with the local girls.

 

In chronicling the history of the AES, James J. Cooke harks back to the Civil War, in which sutlers sold basic items to the Yankee troops for exorbitant prices, and to the First World War, when morale-building provisions were brought in by agencies such as the Red Cross. He then traces the evolution of the PX through World War II from the point of view of those who ran the service and that of the soldiers who used it, blending administrative history with colorful anecdotes and interspersing letters from GIs.

 

Cooke views the PX as a manifestation of American mobility, materialism, and the cultural revolution of mass consumerism that flourished in the 1920s, serving soldiers who were themselves products of this new American way of retail and expected a high level of material support in time of war. He emphasizes the accomplishments of Major General Joseph W. Byron, chief PX officer from 1941 to 1943, and his deputy, Colonel Frank Kerr. He also tells how the PX dealt with the presence of large numbers of women in uniform and the need to meet their demands in exchange offerings.

 

By 1945, General Byron could boast that the Army Exchange Service operated the world’s largest department store chain, serving the grandest army the United States had ever put in the field, and today the PX is still a central factor of military life. Yet as Cooke shows, the key to the AES’s importance was ultimately the way it bolstered morale—and helped give our fighting men the will to keep fighting.

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Child of War

A Memoir of World War II Internment in the Philippines

Curtis Whitfield Tong

Hours after attacking Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers stormed across the Philippine city of Baguio, where seven-year-old Curt Tong, the son of American missionaries, hid with his classmates in the woods near his school. Three weeks later, Curt, his mother, and two sisters were among the nearly five hundred Americans who surrendered to the Japanese army in Baguio. Child of War is Tong’s touching story of the next three years of his childhood as he endured fear, starvation, sickness, and separation from his father while interned in three different Japanese prison camps on the island of Luzon. Written by the adult Tong looking back on his wartime ordeal, it offers a rich trove of memories about internment life and camp experiences. Relegated first to the men’s barracks at Camp John Hay, Curt is taken under the wing of a close family friend who is also the camp’s civilian leader. From this vantage point, he is able to observe the running of the camp firsthand as the war continues and increasing numbers of Americans are imprisoned. Curt’s days are occupied with work detail, baseball, and childhood adventures. Along with his mother and sisters, he experiences daily life under a series of camp commandants, some ruling with intimidation and cruelty but one, memorably, with compassion. In the last months of the war the entire family is finally reunited, and their ordeal ends when they are liberated from Manila’s Bilibid Prison by American troops. Child of War is an engaging and thoughtful memoir that presents an unusual view of life as a World War II internee—that of a young boy. It is a valuable addition to existing wartime autobiographies and diaries and contributes significantly to a greater understanding of the Pacific War and its impact on American civilians in Asia.

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Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas

Mexican Workers and Job Politics during World War II

By Emilio Zamora; Foreword by Juan Gómez Quiñones

In Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas, Emilio Zamora traces the experiences of Mexican workers on the American home front during World War II as they moved from rural to urban areas and sought better-paying jobs in rapidly expanding industries. Contending that discrimination undermined job opportunities, Zamora investigates the intervention by Mexico in the treatment of workers, the U.S. State Department's response, and Texas' emergence as a key site for negotiating the application of the Good Neighbor Policy. He examines the role of women workers, the evolving political struggle, the rise of the liberal-urban coalition, and the conservative tradition in Texas. Zamora also looks closely at civil and labor rights–related efforts, implemented by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Fair Employment Practice Committee.

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Classical Spies

American Archaeologists with the OSS in World War II Greece

Susan Heuck Allen

“Classical Spies will be a lasting contribution to the discipline and will stimulate further research. Susan Heuck Allen presents to a wide readership a topic of interest that is important and has been neglected.” —William M. Calder III, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Classical Spies is the first insiders’ account of the operations of the American intelligence service in World War II Greece. Initiated by archaeologists in Greece and the eastern Mediterranean, the network drew on scholars’ personal contacts and knowledge of languages and terrain. While modern readers might think Indiana Jones is just a fantasy character, Classical Spies discloses events where even Indy would feel at home: burying Athenian dig records in an Egyptian tomb, activating prep-school connections to establish spies code-named Vulture and Chickadee, and organizing parachute drops. Susan Heuck Allen reveals remarkable details about a remarkable group of individuals. Often mistaken for mild-mannered professors and scholars, such archaeologists as University of Pennsylvania’s Rodney Young, Cincinnati’s Jack Caskey and Carl Blegen, Yale’s Jerry Sperling and Dorothy Cox, and Bryn Mawr’s Virginia Grace proved their mettle as effective spies in an intriguing game of cat and mouse with their Nazi counterparts. Relying on interviews with individuals sharing their stories for the first time, previously unpublished secret documents, private diaries and letters, and personal photographs, Classical Spies offers an exciting and personal perspective on the history of World War II.

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Combat Loaded

Across the Pacific on the USS Tate

By Thomas E. Crew

The first authoritative history of any of the more than 350 attack transports or attack cargo ships of World War II, Combat Loaded: Across the Pacific on the USS Tate contains gripping combat narratives alongside the sometimes heartwarming, sometimes tragic details of daily life on board the ships of Transport Squadron 17 during the waning days of World War II. Author Thomas E. Crew interviewed over fifty veterans of the Tate, including all her surviving officers. Crew weaves a rich tapestry of voices, combining it with extensive analysis of the Tate’s daily action reports and ship’s logs, accented by lively letters of the period from private collections—including previously unpublished accounts of the last days of famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Crew also presents a rare unit-level perspective of joint operations involving the infantry fighting ashore and the navy transports that sustained them with their vital combat cargo. The resulting richly illustrated work presents perhaps the most comprehensive account to date of the experiences and courageous contributions of those who served on amphibious transports during World War II.

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