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America's Great War: World War I and the American Experience (Critical Issues in American History)

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0847696451
ISBN-10: 0847696456
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this captivating and clearly presented work, noted University of Florida historian Zieger (The CIO, 1935-1955) explores the relatively brief role of the U.S. in WWI. America's role was largely born of what Zieger portrays as President Woodrow Wilson's singularly idealistic, overtly Christian and arrogant world view that the U.S.Aby virtue of its wealth and moral supremacyAalone could save Western civilization. Determined to use America's clout without involving American lives in a war that didn't threaten the country directly, Wilson very actively played the role of mediator among the warring parties for the first three years of the conflict. He finally asked Congress to declare war against Germany after German U-boats torpedoed neutral U.S. merchant ships. America's entrance into the war, therefore, set the stage for its future foreign relations policy, which until then had been primarily isolationist, and for the emergence of what Zieger calls a "national security state," with an active focus on developing the technology and securing and training the manpower necessary to maintain military readiness even during peacetime. This book also focuses on political battles fought on the home front on behalf of progressive causes in three crucial areasArace, labor and the "woman question." Growing unrest between workers and capitalistsAand the growing disparity between wealth and povertyAled to an increase in labor union participation and more than 3,000 strikes, many of them violent. Leaders of the most prominent union, the AFL, pledged loyalty to the Wilson administration in return for the passage of legislation benefiting workers. Ziegler argues that America's stance in WWI was ultimately largely the result of one individual's vision, and that this involvement led to America's emergence as the world leader. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


In this captivating and clearly presented work, noted University of Florida historian Zieger (The CIO, 1935-1955) explores the relatively brief role of the U.S. in WWI. (Publishers Weekly)

Zieger's deft historical synthesis of American society during WW I makes this volume informative for scholars and teachers, interesting for general readers, and especially useful for students. A superb synthesis, for all levels. (CHOICE)

Prize-winning historian Robert H. Zieger has written another exemplary book―this one a judicious and insightful examination of the American experience during the Great War. In this eminently readable, thoughtful, and well-reseached work, he has produced a masterful synthesis that instructs, challenges, fascinates. A model of scholarly analysis, Zieger's study will engage the interest of specialists, students, and general readers alike. (LeRoy Ashby, Washington State University)

World War I was the seminal cataclysm of the twentieth century. Professor Zieger's lucid volume is a discerning and provocative exploration of its consequences for the American people. (George H. Nash, author of The Life of Herbert Hoover)

Robert Zieger, the distinguished historian of labor, has produced in America's Great War a superb overview of the national experience in World War I. He adds to diplomatic, political, and military history a close examination of the war's impact on women, minorities, and workers. He provides a lucid and fair-minded examination of how America helped the Allies win the war and lose the peace, and incisively analyzes Woodrow Wilson, the conflicted, obsessive self-defeating president around whom the entire war turned. Taking advantage of the latest scholarship, while weaving it skillfully into his own powerful narrative, Zieger has made this the best introduction yet to America's role in the defining event of the 20th Century. (William L. O'Neill, Professor of History, Rutgers University; author of Coming Apart)

Three qualities have always characterized Robert Zieger's work: thorough familiarity with the pertinent literature; balanced and thoughtful analysis; and a graceful writing style. Each of these are evident in this volume. (Burton Kaufman, Miami University, Ohio)

The writing is lively, specific, and clear, but what impresses me most about this volume is its fairness. Zieger demonstrates that the strongest arguments from apparently clashing interpretations can be brought together to make a balanced, persuasive synthesis. (Kendrick Clements, University of South Carolina)

This well-crafted book takes the measure of America's experience in World War I both at home and on the European battlefield, gauging the lofty hopes with which so many Americans entered the fray and plumbingthe tragic legacy of the war with equal care. The work of a historian who combines uncommon skill with a deeply humane vision, America's Great War provides readers the best single-volume introduction to its subject now in print. (Joseph A. McCartin, Georgetown University)

Brimming with sharp judgments and keen insights, Zieger's is the best book yet on the American experience in World War I. Zieger skillfully places the war in historical perspective, showing how the events of 1917-18 shaped the century to come. But he also conveys a sense of how the unfolding drama of war, with all its uncertainties, appeared to Americans at the time. (Patrick J. Maney, author of The Roosevelt Presence: The Life and Legacy of FDR)

Anyone looking for a first-rate book on the United States and World War I will derive great pleasure and insight from Robert Zieger's America's Great War. This is a concise, balanced, thoughtful, and well-written account of domestic, military, and diplomatic aspects of a war that has greatly influenced American life and institutions in the ensuing 80 years. (James T. Patterson, Brown University)

Robert Zieger's fascinating reexamination of America's World War I experience is deeply informed, gracefully and accessibly written, exceptionally insightful, and extraordinarily well balanced. It provides a masterful and much needed synthesis incorporating the best of recent research and interpretive rethinking. And, as intended, it will leave readers not only with a better understanding of what happened and why but also with a heightened sense of its historical importance, tragic implications, and enduring interest. It deserves a wide readership and extensive usage. (Ellis W. Hawley, University of Iowa)

This is a thoughtful, accessible and well-crafted analysis of the Great War's meaning and its impact on American society. Based on a scrupulous sifting of recent scholarship, Zieger's synthetic study brings to life both the geo-political significance of the war and its influence in reshaping the day-to-day lives of ordinary Americans. (Shelton Stromquist, University of Iowa)

The author knows his subject, and his lucid prose is a pleasure to read. (Kirkus Reviews)

Zieger's discussion of the war's effects on the labor, civil rights, and feminist movements is superb. For those interested in the importance of the Great War in American History, this is a fine book. (Military History)

This is a concise, balanced, well written account of domestic, military and diplomatic aspects of the war which has greatly influenced American life in the ensuing eight decades. Zieger's book should be of interest to university students as well as general readers. (Rocky Ford Daily Gazette)

Skillfully blending sources―new and old, primary and secondary, print and electronic―as well as innovative methodologies and insights from an impressive variety of historical sub-disciplines, Zieger transforms what seem, at first glance, familiar stories into fascinating and challenging reinterpretations. (John D. Buenker Labor History)

A thought-provoking work on the American experience during The Great War. This is an important work that adds to our understanding of the consequences of the First World War for the American people. (Relevance)

This is an insightful examination of the American experience during World War I. (Journal Of America's Military Past)

Overall, he more than meets his goal of providing a comprehensive and thought-provoking account of America's Great War experience for students and general readers. (The Register)

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Product Details

  • Series: Critical Issues in American History
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (November 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847696456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847696451
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you are the serious reader, historian or educator looking for the political context of WWI, then grab this book. You will read about the Wilsonian politics of non intervention and his arrogant moral & ethical justification of our participation with an ultimate goal of a new world order.
There is lengthy discussion of labor strife, discrimination of minorities and propaganda at home. The economics of war in a changing world according to Keynes is also given some attention. Unschooled readers will be interested in reading about the Alien & Sedition Act, and how the U.S. government responded through law enforcement. Here, J. Edgar Hoover is introduced as the director of the precursor of the FBI.
The last chapter contains an excellent list of political questions to be answered by historians like who is to blame for the failure of the Treaty of Versailles
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Acute Observer on May 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book was written to educate a general audience. The 'Foreword' says Woodrow Wilson's advice of self-determination, universal human rights, and an international organization to prevent future wars failed. But this merely shows Wilson's flawed thinking. Class and sectional differences make politics, and competitive trade leads to war. If one country seeks more colonies or hegemony it can only do so by attacking the countries with colonies or hegemony. There's no secret there. Wilson was a skilled rhetorician but talk cannot resolve economic rivalry when one country refuses to hand over its long-held powers. Once America began to supply the Allies for money they soon needed to guarantee an Allied victory (p.viii). The 'Chronology' fails to list the San Francisco Preparedness Day bombing in 1916, or the German Revolts in November 1918. The 'Introduction' says the Great War enhanced the "national security" government with new laws and powers to control and limit the thinking of people. These powers led to the end of political renewal (third parties) and the fossilization of the two-party system, more firmly controlled by corporations (p.3). The origins of the National Security State was based on "domestic corporate hegemony" (p.18). The American economy in 1914 had the worst depression since the 1890s, and prosperity resulted from sales to Europe (p.11).

Britain placed minefields to bottle up the German fleets in the Baltic and North Seas. But submarines could evade minefields and sink British battle cruisers. Vulnerable U-boats learned they could only win by attacking without warning (p.13). The crisis of the Lusitania sinking was the German answer to the British blockade (p.23).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By shellspa653 on December 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Definitely, if you're looking for an easy, leisurely read, this is NOT what you want. This I had to read for my upper-level history class in college and it's definitely more up that avenue. However, if you want something a bit more scholarly that truly analyzes what a historian would look at, this is what you want. There are sections analyzing race, class, gender, progressivism, and much more. So it just depends on what you like! I will say that this did a really great job of analyzing the Treaty of Versailles.
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I have continued to find good books on American involment in WWI . . . this one is good, but not great.
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