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History > Military History > World War II

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Results 91-100 of 167

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Letters to Lee Cover

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Letters to Lee

From Pearl Harbor to the War's Final Mission

Celia Edmundson

In his 36 years of military service, Lt. General James V. Edmundson had extensive experience in combat operations and command at every level in the Air Force. He had over 10,000 hours of pilot time in 137 types of airplanes. In addition to the 107 combat missions in World War II, he led 32 combat missions in Korea and 42 in Vietnam. Two years after General Edmundson's death in 2001, his daughter, Celia discovered a trunk of his letters and was particularly fascinated with the correspondence between her father and mother, Lee. This very personal story is told through chronological vignettes, letters, newspaper and magazine articles of the period. The vignettes were written in 2000 - the letters begin in 1939 in the beautiful Territory of Hawaii. The two are interwoven and provide incredible descriptions and detail of the conditions both before and after the U.S. entry into the War; of the early fighting in the South Pacific; of the highly secret development and implementation of the Superfortress, which ultimately brought an end to Japan's war against the United States; and of the China-Burma-India Theater, as the war accelerates and the last mission is flown. Correspondents from the United Press and Newsweek who accompanied Edmundson on combat missions enrich the story. Letter to Lee is a first person account of two of the heroes of World War II and of the love that they shared across the years and miles. They lived their lives with integrity and courage, one example of this great generation and this incredible period in time.

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Life Behind Barbed Wire

Yasutaro Soga

Yasutaro Soga’s Life behind Barbed Wire (Tessaku seikatsu) is an exceptional firsthand account of the incarceration of a Hawai‘i Japanese during World War II. On the evening of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Soga, the editor of a Japanese-language newspaper, was arrested along with several hundred other prominent Issei ( Japanese immigrants) in Hawai‘i. After being held for six months on Sand Island, Soga was transferred to an Army camp in Lordsburg, New Mexico, and later to a Justice Department camp in Santa Fe. He would spend just under four years in custody before returning to Hawai‘i in the months following the end of the war. Most of what has been written about the detention of Japanese Americans focuses on the Nisei experience of mass internment on the West Coast—largely because of the language barrier immigrant writers faced. This translation, therefore, presents us with a rare Issei voice on internment, and Soga’s opinions challenge many commonly held assumptions about Japanese Americans during the war regarding race relations, patriotism, and loyalty. Although centered on one man’s experience, Life behind Barbed Wire benefits greatly from Soga’s trained eye and instincts as a professional journalist, which allowed him to paint a larger picture of those extraordinary times and his place in them. The Introduction by Tetsuden Kashima of the University of Washington and Foreword by Dennis Ogawa of the University of Hawai‘i provide context for Soga’s recollections based on the most current scholarship on the Japanese American internment.

Long Hard Road Cover

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Long Hard Road

American POWs During World War II

Thomas Saylor

Between 1941 and 1945 more than 110,000 American marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors were taken prisoner by German, Italian, and Japanese forces. Most who fought overseas during World War II weren’t prepared for capture, or for the life-altering experiences of incarceration, torture, and camaraderie bred of hardship that followed. Their harrowing story—often overlooked in Greatest Generation narratives—is told here by the POWs themselves. Long hours of inactivity followed by moments of sheer terror. Slave labor, death marches, the infamous hell ships. Historian Thomas Saylor pieces together the stories of nearly one hundred World War II POWs to explore what it was like to be the “guest” of the Axis Powers and to reveal how these men managed to survive. Gunner Bob Michelsen bailed out of his wounded B-29 near Tokyo, only to endure days of interrogation and beatings and months as a “special prisoner” in a tiny cell home to seventeen other Americans. Medic Richard Ritchie spent long moments of terror locked with dozens of others in an unmarked boxcar that was repeatedly strafed by Allied forces. In the closing chapter to this moving narrative, the men speak of their difficult transition to life back home, where many sought—not always successfully—to put their experience behind them.

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Looking After Minidoka

An American Memoir

Neil Nakadate

During World War II, 110,000 Japanese Americans were removed from their homes and incarcerated by the U.S. government. In Looking After Minidoka the "internment camp" years become a prism for understanding three generations of Japanese American life, from immigration to the end of the twentieth century. Nakadate blends history, poetry, rescued memory, and family stories in an American narrative of hope and disappointment, language and education, employment and social standing, prejudice and pain, communal values and personal dreams.

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MacArthur in Asia

The General and His Staff in the Philippines, Japan, and Korea

by Hiroshi Masuda; translated by Reiko Yamamoto

General Douglas MacArthur's storied career is inextricably linked to Asia. His father, Arthur, served as Military Governor of the Philippines while Douglas was a student at West Point, and the younger MacArthur would serve several tours of duty in that country over the next four decades, becoming friends with several influential Filipinos, including the country's future president, Emanuel L. Quezon. In 1935, he became Quezon's military advisor, a post he held after retiring from the U.S. Army and at the time of Japan's invasion of 1941. As Supreme Commander for the Southwest Pacific, MacArthur led American forces throughout the Pacific War. He officially accepted Japan's surrender in 1945 and would later oversee the Allied occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951. He then led the UN Command in the Korean War from 1950 to 1951, until he was dismissed from his post by President Truman.

In MacArthur in Asia, the distinguished Japanese historian Hiroshi Masuda offers a new perspective on the American icon, focusing on his experiences in the Philippines, Japan, and Korea and highlighting the importance of the general's staff-the famous "Bataan Boys" who served alongside MacArthur throughout the Asian arc of his career-to both MacArthur's and the region's history. First published to wide acclaim in Japanese in 2009 and translated into English for the first time, this book uses a wide range of sources-American and Japanese, official records and oral histories-to present a complex view of MacArthur, one that illuminates his military decisions during the Pacific campaign and his administration of the Japanese Occupation.

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Marines of Montford Point

America's First Black Marines

Melton A. McLaurin

With an executive order from President Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, the United States Marine Corps--the last all-white branch of the U.S. military--was forced to begin recruiting and enlisting African Americans. The first black recruits received basic training at the segregated Camp Montford Point, adjacent to Camp Lejeune, near Jacksonville, North Carolina. Between 1942 and 1949 (when the base was closed as a result of President Truman's 1948 order fully desegregating all military forces) more than 20,000 men trained at Montford Point, most of them going on to serve in the Pacific Theatre in World War II as members of support units. This book, in conjunction with the documentary film of the same name, tells the story of these Marines for the first time.

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Men in German Uniform

POWs in America during World War II

Antonio Thompson

Examining the largest prisoner-of-war handling operation in U.S. history, this book offers a meticulous account of the myriad problems—as well as the impressive successes—that came with housing 371,000 German POWs on American soil during World War II. Antonio Thompson draws on extensive archival research to probe the various ways in which the U.S. government strove to comply with the Geneva Convention’s mandate that enemy prisoners be moved from the war zone and given food, shelter, and clothing equal to that provided for American soldiers.

While the prisoners became a ready source of manpower for the labor-starved American home front and received small wages in return, their stay in the United States generated more than a few difficulties, which included not only daunting logistics but also violence within the camps. Such violence was often blamed on Nazi influence and control; however, as Thompson points out, only a few of the prisoners were actually Nazis. Because the Germans had cobbled together military forces that included convicts, their own POWs, volunteers from neutral nations, and conscripts from occupied countries, the bonds that held these soldiers together amid the pressures of combat dissolved once they were placed behind barbed wire. When these “men in German uniform,” who were not always Germans, donned POW garb, their former social, racial, religious, and ethnic tensions quickly reemerged.

To counter such troubles, American authorities organized various activities—including sports, arts, education, and religion—within the POW camps; some prisoners even participated in an illegal denazification program created by the U.S. government. Despite the problems, Thompson argues, the POW-housing program proved largely successful, as Americans maintained their reputation for fairness and humane treatment during a time of widespread turmoil.
 
Antonio Thompson is an assistant professor of history at Austin Peay State University and the author of <i>German Jackboots on Kentucky Bluegrass: Housing German Prisoners of War in Kentucky, 1942–1946</i>. He has also taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

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Midway Inquest

Why the Japanese Lost the Battle of Midway

Dallas Woodbury Isom

Midway, the most famous naval battle in American history, has been the subject of many excellent books. However, none satisfactorily explain why the Japanese lost that battle, given their overwhelming advantage in firepower. While no book may ever silence debate on the subject, Midway Inquest answers the central mystery of the battle. Why could the Japanese not get a bomber strike launched against the American carrier force before being attacked and destroyed by American dive bombers from the Enterprise and Yorktown? Although it is well known that the Japanese were unable to launch an immediate attack because their aircraft were in the process of changing armament, why wasn't the rearming operation reversed and an attack launched before the American planes arrived? Based on extensive research in Japanese primary records, Japanese literature on the battle, and interviews with over two dozen Japanese veterans from the carrier air groups, this book solves the mystery at last.

Montgomery in the Good War Cover

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Montgomery in the Good War

Portrait of a Southern City, 1939-1946

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.

Murder and Martial Justice Cover

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Murder and Martial Justice

Spying and Retribution in World War II America

A remarkable story of how the U.S. military tortured German POWs into confessing their guilt

“An expert dissection of the crime, its witnesses, and Washington’s shifting goals. Murder and Martial Justice is a good murder mystery, based on a solid examination of the various contradictions and irritating bureaucratic villains.” —Arnold Krammer, author of Nazi Prisoners of War in America and Undue Process: The Untold Story of America’s German Alien Internees

During World War II, the United States maintained two secret interrogation camps in violation of the Geneva Convention—one just south of Washington, D.C., and the other near San Francisco. German POWs who passed through these camps briefed their fellow prisoners, warning them of turncoats who were helping the enemy—the United States—pry secrets from them. One of these turncoats, Werner Drechsler, was betrayed and murdered by those he spied on.

U.S. military authorities reacted harshly to Drechsler’s death, even though he was not the first captive to be assassinated by his fellow POWs. How had military intelligence been compromised? Were fanatical Nazis terrorizing their countrymen on American soil? Would Hitler take reprisals against the GIs he held if the United States did not protect the German POWs from violence and death while confined at the interrogation camps? At one of the secret camps, U.S. officials forced Drechsler’s seven murderers to confess. The next problem faced by authorities was how to court-martial them when their confessions were legally invalid. Their secret trial was stage-managed to deliver death sentences while apparently complying with U.S. and international law.

This presented U.S. authorities with further problems. The Geneva Convention entitled the prisoners’ governments to the full facts about their crimes, trials, and sentencing. Despite escalating German complaints, the War Department adopted a policy of giving as little information as possible about any of the several POW murder trials in order to avoid releasing inconvenient facts about the Drechsler case. Unsurprisingly, the Reich began sentencing GIs to death. Gambling with American lives, the War Department stalled every German attempt to trade these men for the convicted German murderers until the war ended. Every American was saved; every German but one was hanged.

The Drechsler case foreshadows current controversies: creative circumvention of the Geneva Convention, secret interrogation centers, torture, and the consequent problem of how to provide a fair trial to prisoners coerced into self-incrimination. Author Meredith Lentz Adams sees a familiar pattern of cover-ups, leading to difficulties with public and international relations. In contrast to recent policies, she points out how leaders during World War II felt constrained by their respect for Geneva and by fear of retribution against their own soldiers.

Murder and Martial Justice is a fascinating and provocative book that will appeal to those with an interest in World War II, POWs, international law, foreign policy, and true crime history.

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