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Contested Pasts of World War II' To: List for Discussion of History of Journalism and Mass Communication <JHISTORY@h-net.msu.edu> It seems a decent enough Review, though there remains a question if any one volume can or ever will do complete the history from WW II.Contrasting collective memory or themes from individual experiences and memories would absorb much more than likely has ever been completed even now. These passages do suggest, it would have been nice had the Review been able to denote specific 'myths' for example that were being discussed. But the generalized statement leaves wondering if both author and Reviewer did have such materials ? The 3 meta phases leave more questions; specific, is the 'traditional' correctly characterized or is this a misuse of the term to indicate one circumstance which might not be valuable nor believeable. After Dec. 7th is was very clear for a great many, both collective and individual who and what the eneny was all about; what conseuqneces for Americans must await from doing nothing and how could 'they' get at the enemy to put an end to such deeds. Here, the personal experience and memory does become very personal, even as experience is collective. My own family members were affected, one of them even volunteering the week after Pearl Harbor for Naval service, being from Los Angeles and like so many others realizing the relative vulnerability and 'openness' of the Califronia, Pacific Coast to attack and assualt, like that inflicted in Hawaii, some 1500 miles distant. A little too close to home, to suit a great many, including the US itself. Possibly, reading this volume would clarify some of the points discussed; but, remains the thought personalized memory and experiences are not likely to be included quite the way they are/were thought by those who did and had to submit to the mass destructiveness of an opponent who no or little regards for their lives, let alone their freedoms. Wyatt Reader UCLA___Whittier College California Community Colleges//private Las Vegas, Nevada footnote 1: The memory of an individual participating in this Pacific War at a level very ordinary from those who experienced combat, was to be one of those who repaired aircraft shot up by an enemy in combat. Both planes and pilots, some of whom were 'friends' to the family member, left an impression or memory of the meaning that WW II brought to far too many as it did. >Date: Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 9:35 PM >Subject: H-Net Review Publication: 'The Contested Pasts of World War II' >To: Jhistory <email@example.com> > > >John E. Bodnar. The "Good War" in American Memory. >Baltimore Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. x + 299 pp. $40.00 >(cloth), ISBN 978-0-8018-9667-5. > >Reviewed by Andrew Salvati >Published on Jhistory (June, 2011) >Commissioned by Donna Harrington-Lueker > >The Contested Pasts of World War II > > >The strength of Bodnar's book is its interface of individual, >subjective memories with the received narrative presented by national >monuments, hawkish rhetoric, and the expanding market for heroic media >representations of the war. The book reminds readers that the legacy >of World War II is not simply a narrative that begins with the >justness of the Allied cause against a palpable evil; moves through >the destruction of that evil; and, finally, celebrates the valor and >ethic of the "Greatest Generation." Bodnar's project involves >recovering the subordinated memories that are seldom referenced in >traditional, patriotic narratives. Endemic psychological and physical >traumas, lifelong night terrors, fatherless children, marital >infidelities, and instances of alcoholism and domestic violence among >returning vets are rarely memorialized in material culture, but >formed the reality of the war and its aftermath for many who survived. >With the material arranged chronologically over seven chapters, Bodnar >reconstructs these marginalized experiences, weaving poignant, often >heartbreaking, stories of veterans and their families with a >discussion of architectural and media memorialization, and alongside >the narratives articulated by particular social groups, like the >American Legion and the National Association for the Advancement of >Colored People (NAACP). Emphasized are the memories of mothers who >lost sons, of soldiers who returned home psychologically scarred, of >African Americans angry at how wartime sacrifices failed to translate >into equality at home, of women who took wartime factory jobs for >economic benefit rather than political idealism, and of those >Americans who became convinced of the tragedy and futility of war by >the utter destructivity of that conflict. > >Bodnar approaches this diversity of American experience by parsing out >three meta-narratives--the traditional, the critical, and the >humanitarian-through which "Americans struggled to craft both an >understanding of World War II while it was being fought and a >remembrance of the war after it ended" (p. 1). The traditional, Bodnar >explains, customarily invoked World War II "not as a human tragedy but >as an opportunity for Americans to assume a position of dominance in >the world and reaffirm their innate ... moral courage and bravery" (p. >4). >In suggesting these narrative forms, Bodnar argues that despite the >"oneness" and idealistic clarity so often privileged in contemporary >public memories, wartime discussions of the meanings and outcomes of >the conflict were more ambiguous (p. 3). Drawing examples from >contemporary media coverage, and from the experiences of individual >men, women, and communities mobilizing for war, Bodnar explains how >uneasiness about military intervention initially stemmed from the >failure of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Four Freedoms to >convince all Americans--especially the strong isolationist >contingent--of coherent ideological and ethical aims of the nation. > >As he traverses race, class, gender, books, film, small towns, and >urban centers to recover marginalized memories of World War II, Bodnar >also explains how the patriotic and victorious themes indigenous to >the traditional narrative of the war have achieved an uneasy, dominant >position. ........that he "does not attempt to cover every aspect of this >incredibly pervasive discussion" (p. 8). While Bodnar is interested >specifically in describing the contestedness of the collective memory >of the "Good War," the omissions one may catch in the book will >likely depend on one's own disciplinary perspective and person ..................................................>While further work in this and other directions may yet be done, these >issues would likely inform the frame, and not the substance, of >Bodnar's thesis, which is to nuance a totalized, selective version of >the past by recovering subjective memories and critical historical >discourses. Bodnar's project in _The "Good" War in American Memory_ is >therefore not to merely debunk the common myths of World War II, >but to reveal a fractured and contentious past. > >Citation: Andrew Salvati. Review of Bodnar, John E., _The "Good >War" in American Memory_. Jhistory, H-Net Reviews. June, 2011. >URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=33393 > >This work is licensed under a Creative Commons >Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States >License. > ------------------------------------------------------- jhistory@H-NET.MSU.EDU http://www.h-net.org/~jhistory -------------------------------------------------------