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The Fightin' Texas Aggie Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor

John A. Adams

By any measure, the battles of Bataan and Corregidor were among the most intensely fought and devastating episodes in the World War II Pacific theater. Beginning in early 1942, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the Philippines in an attempt to control the Pacific region and expand its sphere of influence. The defense and last stand of Filipino and American allied forces marked the largest surrender in their respective military histories. Their efforts slowed the Japanese advance but only at great cost.

John A. Adams Jr. provides a new and compelling exploration of these pivotal events by recounting the history of Bataan and Corregidor through the eyes of 89 soldiers and officers who were former students and citizen soldiers from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. All were products of the Corps of Cadets, and indeed no other institution could boast of such a large deployment in the opening of the war.

While many words have been written on Bataan and Corregidor, none have taken the approach of collective biography as The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor does here. As a result, this book is not only a new contribution to the history of World War II but also stands to be a landmark publication on the history of Texas A&M University.

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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 Drawing on oral testimony, unpublished correspondence, archival records, memoirs, and diaries, Robert F. Jefferson explores the curious contradiction of war-effort idealism and entrenched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.

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The Fighting Sullivans

How Hollywood and the Military Make Heroes

A study in mythmaking, The Fighting Sullivans offers a behind-the-scenes look at the manufacture of heroes in wartime America in the twentieth century.

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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. 

 

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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

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Five Days in August

How World War II Became a Nuclear War

Michael D. Gordin

Most Americans believe that the Second World War ended because the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan forced it to surrender. Five Days in August boldly presents a different interpretation: that the military did not clearly understand the atomic bomb’s revolutionary strategic potential, that the Allies were almost as stunned by the surrender as the Japanese were by the attack, and that not only had experts planned and fully anticipated the need for a third bomb, they were skeptical about whether the atomic bomb would work at all. With these ideas, Michael Gordin reorients the historical and contemporary conversation about the A-bomb and World War II.

Five Days in August explores these and countless other legacies of the atomic bomb in a glaring new light. Daring and iconoclastic, it will result in far-reaching discussions about the significance of the A-bomb, about World War II, and about the moral issues they have spawned.

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Flying against Fate

Superstition and Allied Aircrews in World War II

There are many ways that warriors have dealt with the immense stress of

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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.

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Forgotten Men and Fallen Women

The Cultural Politics of New Deal Narratives

by Holly Allen

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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.

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