"My father. Earl Hutchinson Sr. and my uncle, James Hutchinson, were World War II veterans,” says political and World War II History analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson. I grew up hearing the stories about my father’s wartime experiences and how those experiences changed and shaped his life. The war has always had special meaning for me.”
Earl Ofari Hutchinson's new book, How World War II Changed America, is scheduled for release on August 6, designated Hiroshima Day globally and months before commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the December 7. Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack propelled the U.S. into the war. The events continue to spark discussion, debate, and reflection on the lessons still to be learned from World War II.
How World War II Changed America pays tribute to the enduring changes the war brought to America and the men and women who made those changes. Says Hutchinson. “My father’s story and the story of others affected by the war I tell.” He further notes, “The one certainty about any new look at World War II is that if the U.S. had not entered the global fight, it would be a much different America today. And so would their story."
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This has been a supremely important book for me, the historical repercussions of war are often shown in mainstream media in a very contotred way. I didn't think I could view the second world war in this new light! The book is very well researched and nuanced in the way it talks of all instances and objects. It is racially aware, doesn't shy away from difficult conversations that surround a vulnerable postwar country that is united in its various divisions. It's the historical contexts and details of the small/everyday things that got to me the most. From the very first page the book grips you in its emotionally charged narrative and there is definite no turning back. Will definitely recommend this book to anyone who gives two fucks about history because this book is important not just the people in the United States but the entire world.
It's a fact of life: war is a terrible thing. Throughout history it is wrought horrendous carnage, destroyed cities, displaced countless peoples, injured untold millions and possibly accounted for as many as one billion deaths throughout the history of the world thus far. At the same time, the world would not be the same without it.. Many of the advantages we enjoy today occurred as a direct result of war. The same is true even when we restrict ourselves, as this book does, of the United States of America and the Second World War. The war was the bloodiest in human history. But there's no denying, much good came out of it. It was the war, not Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal which transformed the USA into a superpower economy after the Great Depression. The war also created countless opportunities for women to join the workforce. Admittedly, many of these opportunities were cruelly withdrawn as soon as the fighting ceased, but the seed was planted. The war dramatically accelerated the development of computer technology, rocketry and the development of the space programme. It was crucial towards the development of the civil rights movement. The GI Bill also revolutionised many lives. Economics was transformed. Hutchinson also cites ten future US presidents whose lives and outlook were transformed by the conflict. He includes Barack Obama on this list. The impact of the war on Obama was no less despite his being born sixteen years after the war ended. The war accelerated the process of decolonisation. On the downside, this paved the way for the disaster of the Vietnam War. Nuclear weapons were developed largely as a result of concerns over the terrifying prospect that Hitler might get an atomic bomb first. The issue remains controversial. Some would argue, atomic bombs enabled the Second World War with Japan to end with far less American bloodshed. On the other hand, nuclear weapons came close to destroying humanity during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. They may yet kill us all in the future. On the other hand, nuclear technology has also undoubtedly revolutionised our lives for the better in many ways. One clear downside of the war, which Hutchinson highlights was the horrendous decision to round-up 120,000 Japanese-Americans and place them in internment camps in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbour attacks. Two thirds of the interns were US citizens anyway. They were dragged out of their jobs, homes and schools for no greater crime than being Japanese. This atrocity remains a serious black mark against the US's historical record as a champion of freedom and democracy Hutchinson also cleverly identifies many less obvious changes which occurred as a result of war: the Army Air Forces photographer who took some photos of a young attractive female aircraft assembly employee in Burbank in 1944 thus launching the career of the future Marilyn Monroe. The war ensured the jeep became a permanent feature of modern life. Superglue was developed. Concentrated orange juice took off. The Biro pen became a success. Space satellites were launched. ATM bank machines appeared. Freeze-dried coffee was developed. The slinky toy was invented. Penicillin became widely used. Photocopiers were made. Jet engine technology was developed. All because of World War II. This is an excellent and well-researched book but I would take issue with a few of Hutchinson's assertions. None of these errors are the result of any attempt to mislead, they are probably just the result of poor proof reading.. He claims, for example, that the name Charles Babbage is "almost completely forgotten by history". It isn't! Babbage remains well-known as the father of modern computing. At least, he is in Britain. Elsewhere, the author's numeracy occasionally seems a bit off kilter. He states that in the U.S, "slavery ended close to two centuries ago" :the 13th Amendment was actually passed in 1865, 156 years ago, nowhere near 200. He writes of "the decades" separating the fall of the USSR and the September 11th attacks: it was actually just one decade, the period from 1991 to 2001. Finally, there were also not "two decades between" the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Clinton became president in January 1993, just twelve years after Carter left the White House in January 1981.. Such quibbles aside, this is an intelligent, engaging and thought-provoking book.
The title of this book promises much, since it is beyond question that the war changed the United States in so many ways. Alone amongst the victorious Allies it emerged with a vastly enhanced economy, with both individual and national wealth transformed, together with armed forces that were by common agreement the most powerful the world had ever seen. The author makes several starts at linking the changes that transformed America after 1945 to the events of, and those that flowed from, the war years. He covers some well known products that derived from or were influenced by the war in useful detail and provides interesting anecdotes relating to their discovery or application. In passing, it was mildly irritating to see some unwarranted chauvinism creeping in in relation to one or two key developments from British scientists and engineers that were described in ways that emphasised the later development of the technology by the US without acknowledging the initial achievements or the information sharing agreements between the US and UK during the war. One or two factual inaccuracies also irritated. For example, in reference to the decolonialisation that followed the war the author refers to the independence achieved by countries such as India that had been occupied by the Japanese during the war. With the exception of a small group of islands (Andaman Islands) India was never occupied, although a Japanese offensive (U-Go) that involved a temporary incursion into India was halted by the British and allied forces in decisive battles at Kohima and Imphal.. Given the author’s areas of interest and study it is not particularly surprising that a large portion of the book is devoted to political and social changes in the years following the Second World War, including the growth of the Civil Rights movement. However, the link between some aspects of these sections and the Second World War are less securely made than others, where the link is clearer. Overall, then, this is an interesting book that provides a useful perspective on post-1945 America, from the very many technologies that we now take for granted, through the hugely significant social and political developments through these years and right up to the 6 January assault on Congress. Seen in this light, this is a worthwhile read.