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History > Military History > World War II

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Fetch the Devil Cover

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Fetch the Devil

The Sierra Diablo Murders and Nazi Espionage in America

Clint Richmond

In 1938, Hazel Frome, the wife of a powerful executive at Atlas Powder Company, a San Francisco explosives manufacturer, set out on a cross-country motor trip with her twenty-three-year-old daughter, Nancy. When their car broke down in El Paso, Texas, they made the most of being stranded by staying at a posh hotel and crossing the border to Juarez for shopping, dining, and drinking. A week later, their near-nude bodies were found in the Chihuahuan Desert. Though they had been seen on occasion with two mystery men, there were no clues as to why they had apparently been abducted, tortured for days, and shot execution style.

El Paso sheriff Chris Fox, a lawman right out of central casting, engaged in a turf war with the Texas Rangers and local officials that hampered the investigation. But the victims’ detours had placed them in the path of a Nazi spy ring operating from the West Coast to Latin America through a deep-cover portal at El Paso. The sleeper cell was run by spymasters at the German consulate in San Francisco. In 1938, only the inner circle of the Roosevelt White House and a few FBI agents were aware of the extent to which German agents had infiltrated American industry.

Fetch the Devil is the first narrative account of this still officially unsolved case. Based on long forgotten archives and recently declassified FBI files, Richmond paints a convincing portrait of a sheriff’s dogged investigation into a baffling murder, the international spy ring that orchestrated it, and America on the brink of another world war.

Fighter Pilot Cover

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Fighter Pilot

The First American Ace of World War II

William R. Dunn

At the age of twelve, American William R. Dunn decided to become a fighter pilot. In 1939 he joined the Canadian Army and was soon transferred to the Royal Air Force. He was the first pilot in the famous Eagle Squadron of American volunteers to shoot down an enemy aircraft and later became the first American ace of the war. After joining the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943, he saw action in the Normandy invasion and in Patton's sweep across France. Twenty years later he fought again in Vietnam. Dunn keenly conveys the fighter pilot's experience of war -- the tension of combat, the harsh grip of fear, the love of aircraft, the elation of victory, the boisterous comradeship and competition of the pilot brotherhood. Fighter Pilot is both a gripping story and a unique historical document.

Fighting for Hope Cover

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Fighting for Hope

African American Troops of the 93rd Infantry Division in World War II and Postwar America

Robert F. Jefferson

This fascinating history shows how African-American military men and women seized their dignity through barracks culture and community politics during and after World War II. Drawing on oral testimony, unpublished correspondence, archival records, memoirs, and diaries, Robert F. Jefferson explores the curious contradiction of war-effort idealism and entrenched discrimination through the experiences of the 93rd Infantry Division. Led by white officers and presumably unable to fight—and with the army taking great pains to regulate contact between black soldiers and local women—the division was largely relegated to support roles during the advance on the Philippines, seeing action only later in the war when U.S. officials found it unavoidable. Jefferson discusses racial policy within the War Department, examines the lives and morale of black GIs and their families, documents the debate over the deployment of black troops, and focuses on how the soldiers’ wartime experiences reshaped their perspectives on race and citizenship in America. He finds in these men and their families incredible resilience in the face of racism at war and at home and shows how their hopes for the future provided a blueprint for America’s postwar civil rights struggles. Integrating social history and civil rights movement studies, Fighting for Hope examines the ways in which political meaning and identity were reflected in the aspirations of these black GIs and their role in transforming the face of America.

The Final Mission of Bottoms Up Cover

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The Final Mission of Bottoms Up

A World War II Pilot's Story

Dennis R. Okerstrom

 
On November 18, 1944, the end of the war in Europe finally in sight, American copilot Lieutenant Lee Lamar struggled alongside pilot Randall Darden to keep Bottoms Up, their B-24J Liberator, in the air. They and their crew of eight young men had believed the intelligence officer who, at the predawn briefing at their base in southern Italy, had confided that their mission that day would be a milk run. But that twenty-first mission out of Italy would be their last.

 

            Bottoms Up was staggered by an antiaircraft shell that sent it plunging three miles earthward, the pilots recovering control at just 5,000 feet. With two engines out, they tried to make it to a tiny strip on a British-held island in the Adriatic Sea and in desperation threw out everything not essential to flight: machine guns, belts of ammunition, flak jackets. But over Pula, in what is now Croatia, they were once more hit by German fire, and the focus quickly became escaping the doomed bomber. Seemingly unable to extricate himself, Lamar all but surrendered to death before fortuitously bailing out. He was captured the next day and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner at a stalag on the Baltic Sea, suffering the deprivations of little food and heat in Europe’s coldest winter in a century. He never saw most of his crew again.

 

            Then, in 2006, more than sixty years after these life-changing experiences, Lamar received an email from Croatian archaeologist Luka Bekic, who had discovered the wreckage of Bottoms Up. A veteran of the Balkan wars of the 1990s, Bekic felt compelled to find out the crew’s identities and fates. Lee Lamar, a boy from a hardscrabble farm in rural northwestern Missouri, had gone to college on the GI Bill, become a civil engineer, gotten married, and raised a family. Yet, for all the opportunity that stemmed from his wartime service, part of him was lost. The prohibition on asking prisoners of war their memories during the repatriation process prevented him from reconciling himself to the events of that November day. That changed when, nearly a year after being contacted by Bekic, Lamar visited the site, hoping to gain closure, and met the Croatian Partisans who had helped some members of his crew escape.

 

            In this absorbing, alternating account of World War II and its aftermath, Dennis R. Okerstrom chronicles, through Lee Lamar’s experiences, the Great Depression generation who went on to fight in the most expensive war in history. This is the story of the young men who flew Bottoms Up on her final mission, of Lamar’s trip back to the scene of his recurring nightmare, and of a remarkable convergence of international courage, perseverance, and friendship. 

 

Finish Forty and Home Cover

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Finish Forty and Home

The Untold World War II Story of B-24s in the Pacific

Phil Scearce

During the early years of World War II in the Pacific theatre, against overwhelming odds, young American airmen flew the longest and most perilous bombing missions of the war. They faced determined Japanese fighters without fighter escort, relentless anti-aircraft fire with no deviations from target, and thousands of miles of over-water flying with no alternative landing sites. Finish Forty and Home is the true story of the men and missions of the 11th Bombardment Group as it fought alone and unheralded in the South Central Pacific, while America had its eyes on the war in Europe. After bombing Nauru, the squadron moves on to bomb Wake Island, Tarawa, and finally Iwo Jima. These missions bring American forces closer and closer to the Japanese home islands and precede the critical American invasions of Tarawa and Iwo Jima. The 42nd Squadron’s losses through 1943 were staggering: 50 out of 110 airmen killed. “Finish Forty and Home is a treasure: poignant, thrilling, and illuminating.”—Laura Hillenbrand, best-selling author of Unbroken and Seabiscuit

The Forgotten Generation Cover

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The Forgotten Generation

American Children and World War II

Lisa L. Ossian

 

Two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt addressed the nation by radio, saying, “We are all in it—all the way. Every single man, woman, and child is a partner in the most tremendous undertaking of our American history.” So began a continuing theme of the World War II years: the challenges of wartime would not be borne by adults alone. Men, women, and children would all be involved in the work of war.
The struggles endured by American civilians during the Second World War are well documented, but accounts of the war years have mostly deliberated on the grown-ups’ sacrifices. In The Forgotten Generation: American Children and World War II, Lisa L. Ossian explores the war’s full implications for the lives of children. In thematic chapters, the author delves into children’s experiences of family, school, play, work, and home, uncovering the range of effects the war had on youths of various ethnicities and backgrounds.
Since the larger U.S. culture so fervently supported the war effort, adults rarely sheltered children from the realities of the war and the trials of life on the home front. Children listened for news of battles over the radio, labored in munitions factories, and saved money for war bonds. They watched enlisted men—their fathers, uncles, and brothers—leave for duty and worried about the safety of soldiers overseas. They prayed during the D-Day invasion, mourned President Roosevelt’s death, and celebrated on V-J Day . . . all at an age when such sharp events are so difficult to understand. Ossian draws from a multitude of sources, including the writings of 1940s children, to demonstrate the great extent of these young people’s participation in the wartime culture.
World War II transformed a generation of youths as no other experience of the twentieth century would, but somehow the children at home during the war—compressed between the “Greatest Generation” and the “Baby Boomers”—slipped into the margins of U.S. history. The Forgotten Generation: American Children and World War II remembers these children and their engagement in “the most tremendous undertaking” that the war effort came to be. By bringing the depth of those experiences to light, Ossian makes a compelling contribution to the literature on American childhood and the research on this remarkable period of U.S. history.

Forgotten Raiders of '42 Cover

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Forgotten Raiders of '42

The Fate of the Marines Left Behind on Makin

Wiles, Tripp

On October 16, 1942, on Kwajalein Atoll, at the fringe of the Japanese Empire, members of the Imperial Japanese Navy's 6th Base Unit ceremonially beheaded nine Marines from the 2nd Raider Battalion. The captives held no hopes for pardon or for rescue as they walked blindfolded, one by one, to the spot of execution, which also became their burial site. The Marine Corps and their families already thought they were dead, the men knew. Forgotten Raiders of '42 is the account of how these volunteer patriots, unbeknownst to their command, were inadvertently left behind after the Marines' raid on Makin Island in August 1942. The raid, which was a morale boost for the Navy Department and the American public, was hailed at home as a great success even as the condemned Raiders knelt to await their fate. The heroism of the Raiders-under the command of Lt. Col. Evans F. Carlson, who later received the Navy Cross-has been well documented by the press, in books, and in Hollywood. In a country craving good news and heroes, Carlson and the Navy delivered. The details of the raid's shaky beginning and tragic end, however, would not be known until many years later. After a summary of the dramatic raid, Tripp Wiles focuses on the Raiders' withdrawal from Makin and on Carlson's decisions that directly affected the men who were left behind. Wiles also examines the actions, inactions, and conditions that led to their unintentional abandonment. Finally, he reviews the Navy's private reactions and, using new documents and interviews, the Raiders' fate, bringing a measure of closure to the disappearance and execution of the forgotten Raiders.

France during World War II Cover

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France during World War II

From Defeat to Liberation

Thomas Christofferson

In this concise, clearly written book, Thomas and Michael Christofferson provide a balanced introduction to every aspect of the French experience during World War II.Synthesizing a wide range of scholarship, the authors integrate political, diplomatic, military, social, cultural, and economic history in this portrait of a nation and a people at war. Here is a chronicle of the battles and campaigns that stained French soil with blood. Here, also, is the full historical context of the war-its origins, realities, and aftermath-in French society. The authors pay particular attention to the key failures of institutional France-especially the officer corps, political elites, and the Catholic Church. They also assessthe controversial history of the Vichy regime and the German occupation, in carefully crafted accounts of resistance and collaboration, Vichy's National Revolution, and the fate of France's Jews.Accessible to both students and general readers, France during World War II develops a full understanding of the actors, events, issues, and controversies of a turbulent era.

From the Outside In Cover

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From the Outside In

World War II and the American State

Bartholomew H. Sparrow

From the Outside In examines the profound impact of World War II on American government. The book argues that the wartime and immediate postwar experiences of the 1940s transformed and redirected the policies and government institutions of the New Deal. In a work that makes significant contributions to the study of U.S. politics and history, Bartholomew Sparrow proposes a new model of the state and of "state-building." The author applies this model, which derives from the resource dependence perspective, to the historical record of four areas of public policy: social security, labor-management relations, public finance, and military procurement.

This book is the first to use recently available archival materials documenting the consequences of World War II for the programs and political agendas of the welfare state. It is also the first to apply the resource dependency perspective to the U.S. federal government as a complex organization. The book will lead readers to reevaluate the impact of international factors on American political development, to reappraise the role of the New Deal in shaping the postwar federal government, and to reconsider the application of organizational theory to American government.

From the Outside In will be of particular interest to political scientists, political sociologists, and historians. It will appeal to anyone with an interest in the comprehensive effects of the Second World War on domestic policies and U.S. government itself.

Originally published in 1996.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Frontsoldaten Cover

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Frontsoldaten

The German Soldier in World War II

Stephen Fritz

" Alois Dwenger, writing from the front in May of 1942, complained that people forgot “the actions of simple soldiers….I believe that true heroism lies in bearing this dreadful everyday life.” In exploring the reality of the Landser, the average German soldier in World War II, through letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral histories, Stephen G. Fritz provides the definitive account of the everyday war of the German front soldier. The personal documents of these soldiers, most from the Russian front, where the majority of German infantrymen saw service, paint a richly textured portrait of the Landser that illustrates the complexity and paradox of his daily life. Although clinging to a self-image as a decent fellow, the German soldier nonetheless committed terrible crimes in the name of National Socialism. When the war was finally over, and his country lay in ruins, the Landser faced a bitter truth: all his exertions and sacrifices had been in the name of a deplorable regime that had committed unprecedented crimes. With chapters on training, images of combat, living conditions, combat stress, the personal sensations of war, the bonds of comradeship, and ideology and motivation, Fritz offers a sense of immediacy and intimacy, revealing war through the eyes of these self-styled “little men.” A fascinating look at the day-to-day life of German soldiers, this is a book not about war but about men. It will be vitally important for anyone interested in World War II, German history, or the experiences of common soldiers throughout the world.

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