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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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Chasing Ghosts

A Memoir of a Father, Gone to War

Louise DeSalvo

When literary biographer and memoirist Louise DeSalvo embarked upon a journey to learn why her father came home from World War II a changed man, she didn’t realize her quest would take ten years, and that it would yield more revelations about the man—and herself—and the effect of his military service upon their family than she’d ever imagined. During his last years, as he told her about his life, DeSalvo began to understand that her obsession with war novels and military history wasn’t merely academic but rooted in her desire to understand this complex father whom she both adored and reviled because of his mistreatment of her. Although she at first believes she wants to uncover his story, the story of a man who was no hero but who was nonetheless adversely affected by the his military service, she learns that what she really wants is to recover the man that he was before he went away. As DeSalvo and her father uncover his past piece-by-piece, bit-by-bit, she learns about the dreams of a working-class man who entered the military in the late 1930s during peacetime to better himself, a man who wanted to become a pilot. She learns about what it was like for him to participate in war games in the Pacific prior to the war, and its devastating toll. She learns about what it was like for her parents to fall in love, set up house, marry, and have children during this cataclysmic time. And as the pieces of her father’s life fall into place as works to piece together the puzzle of everything she’s learned about this time, she finds herself finally able to understand him. Chasing Ghosts is an original contribution to the understanding of working-class World War II veterans who did not conventionally distinguish themselves through “heroic” actions and whose lives were not until recently considered worthy of historical or cultural attention. It personalizes the history of those sailors who served in the Navy aboard aircraft carriers and on islands in the Pacific prior to, and during World War II and contributes to the current vital conversation about the often-unrecognized effects of war and its traumas upon those men and their families. It reveals the lifelong devastating consequences of military service on those men and women who fell in love, married, and set up house. And it reveals the complexity of what it is like to be the daughter of a father who has gone to war.

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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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Clash of Empires in South China

The Allied Nations' Proxy War with Japan, 1935-1941

Examines the military operations that emerged from the Japanese invasion of Southern China. Opens a new window on this rarely studied theater in World War II and shows for the first time how the conflict served as a "proxy war" to support aims more in line with the goals of the Allied nations than with China's.

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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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A Combat Artist in World War II

Edward Reep

Many artists have fought in wars, and renowned painters have recorded heroic scenes of great battles, but those works were usually done long after the battles were waged. Artists have also been commissioned to visit, briefly, war-torn areas and make notes of the devastation and horror. Yet few artists who were members of any armed services have drawn or painted daily while they fought alongside their comrades.

Edward Reep, as an official combat artist in World War II, painted and sketched while the battles of the Italian campaign raged around him. He was shelled, mortared, and strafed. At Monte Cassino, the earth trembled as he attempted to paint the historic bombing of that magnificent abbey. Later, racing into Milan with armed partisans on the fenders of his Jeep, he saw the bodies of Mussolini and his beautiful mistress cut down from the gas station where they had been hanged by their heels. That same day he witnessed at first hand the spectacle of a large German army force holed up in a high-rise office tower, waiting for the chance to surrender to the proper American brass for fear of falling into the hands of the vengeful partisans.

Reep's recollections of such desperate days are made more memorable in Combat Artist by the many painfully vivid paintings and drawings that accompany the text. Reep's battlefield drawings show us, with unrelenting honesty, the horrors and griefs -- and the bitter comedy -- of that war fought to end wars that only spawned more.

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