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Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II Paperback


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Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II + When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present + America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines (P.S.)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (March 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743245164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743245166
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After years of planting Victory gardens, volunteering at USOs and coping with increased home front responsibilities, in early 1945 Yellin's mother quit her desk job at Reader's Digest and shipped out to the Pacific Front to join the Red Cross. Wartime manpower shortages were bending gender rules, and many women seized the opportunity to try something different. While feminist historians have analyzed the meaning of their war experience, ?ournalist Yellin takes a more subjective approach. This nonjudgmental, anecdotal account covers the usual range of topics—women in war industries, in volunteer work, in the armed forces, in undercover operations—but Yellin avoids retelling the familiar. Thus, she discusses the experiences of Lena Horne and Julia Child more fully than those of Eleanor Roosevelt, and delves deeper into the anti-Semitic Mothers' Movement and Hawaiian prostitutes walking picket lines than more mainstream organizations like the CIO women's committees. Yellin describes the exclusion of African-American women from most military units and the internment of Japanese-American women, but adds little to present scholarship on minority women's participation. Indeed, since her most original material comes from interviews with relatives, family friends and contacts, the book is strongest on the experiences of educated white women, which were surprisingly diverse. For WAVES director Mildred McAfee—the president of Wellesley College before the war—life in the navy took her out of her "cloister" and thrust her into a world where "women are women and men are men." For others, like Yellin's mother, the war let their genies out of the bottle.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–An exceptionally well-written, exhaustively researched book. During World War II, females were confined to auxiliary roles. Yellin reveals all of the responsibilities held by women, including helping to manufacture aircraft, ships, and other munitions; and, in the process, outproducing all of America's allies and enemies, by far. Readers see war brides who worked hard to maintain the morale of their husbands while surviving long separation, fear, and shortages of virtually everything necessary to support a family. Yellin writes about performers like Betty Grable, who traveled to combat theaters to raise the spirits of soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Our Mothers' War is an important book because the role played by women in World War II has been regularly ignored.–Alan Gropman, National Defense University, Washington, DC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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It should be read by every son, daughter, grandson and granddaughter of the Greatest Generation.
tmangrove
It's a great book to set the tone and instill ideas to be further researched by those interested in more detail.
Sandra Brasda
I had first borrowed this book from the library & liked it so much, I had to own it for my library.
K. Hull

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By tmangrove on June 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A great read!
This book is full of surprising, well-told stories of heroic, courageous, and fascinating women. Not just another history of the "supporting roles" of women during the war. This book goes far beyond the stock portrayals of WWII women to take you into their private thoughts and fears. There are pilots, war photographers, disc jockeys, spies, soldiers, members of congress -- so many women who stepped up and took part in the war, often in spite of great opposition. (And it doesn't shy away from telling about a few women who were not so noble during the war either.)
I had never seen the women of WWII placed in this light -- as equal partners in fighting and winning. This book will make you want to know more about your own mother, your aunts, and your grandmothers. (Hopefully you still have a chance to discuss this book with them!) It should be read by every son, daughter, grandson and granddaughter of the Greatest Generation.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By R. Williams on June 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a unique compilation of astonishing research and
personal history that takes the crust off our mothers' wartime persona. Even the high profile women of WWII ? Dietrich, Lombard,
Davis, et al ? are illuminated in thoroughly surprising ways. I read slowly and savored each page, and by the end I knew my mother and grandmothers and the human spirit, better. Kudos to Emily Yellin.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dewey on November 4, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The voice of women veterans is one too seldom heard. Now, with WWII veterans dying at a rate of over 1,000 per day, those voices will all too soon become silent. WWII was the first time women joined the military, and they encountered prejudice and hardships every step of the way. The women and nurses who served in the military witnessed horrors that many of the men encountered, but with much less preparation and little resource for healing after the war. All but forgotten for the roles they performed, this book brings to light their stories by both the women themselves, as well as the author's research and study. Much of the information is rarely found in available books, and "Our Mothers War" is an excellent resource for that information- particularly on the lesser known women's roles on the homefront, in espionage, and those who were taken as prisoners of war. Women volunteered to help the war effort in every possible way. The accounts tell stories of war as well as stories of the lighter side of day-to-day living that was the human side of life during WWII.

An excellent overall account of women in the 1940's, and one that will likely encourage the reader to delve deeper into our nation's history of female veterans, women's roles and the women's movement.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Anyechka on March 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This isn't meant to be some exhaustive encyclopedia, but it's nevertheless a very solid thorough detailed account of what the women of the WWII generation went through, in many facets and fields. Besides just writing about the women in the military, in the factories, on the general homefront, and in the Japanese-American internment camps, there is also interesting insightful information on areas little covered, such as the women who worked at or who had husbands working at Los Alamos, prostitutes, women in right-wing pro-Fascist groups agitating against the American government, and spies. It's stunning to read about all the women of my grandmothers' generation had to struggle against to be accepted into the military, in factories, as professionals, in any capacity in fact besides that of wife, mother, sister, and girlfriend. Particularly horrifying was the section on the Victory Girls; the sexual double standard sent women (many of them proven innocent) suspected of passing VD to soldiers to jail, while giving these soldiers no punishment for cavorting with prostitutes and giving them the best care instead of forcing them to languish in dank unhygienic jail cells without medical attention. Blame the women and treat the men as innocent victims. Also shocking in modern times is how women believed to be lesbians in the military were treated, like they had a mental disorder and were deranged unnatural deviants, as well as how many women who had loyally punctually worked in the factories were handed their discharge slips on the day the boys came home. Still, even restrained by the double standard and beliefs of the era, these women had tasted freedom and greater possibilities, and thanks to everything they did, their knowledge of greater possibilities, they raised daughters who would help to bring about the womens' liberation movement in the next generation, knowing they could never go back to the limited world and possibilities that had existed prior to WWII.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BRIAN A. O'DELL on December 28, 2013
Format: Paperback
This comprehensive and highly readable book is a great introduction to the various roles that women played during WWII from housewife, "Rosie the Riveter" and limited military and nursing roles each was allowed to play. But then it goes further and deeper to explore how African-American women were treated (when many of their husbands were fighting for rights overseas that none could enjoy here in the States), Japanese women forced into U.S. internment camps, "ladies of the evening", lesbians, spies, as well racist and anti-Semitic women's groups. It is a fascinating book with some 30 photos and a really good bibliography at the end if you wish to pursue further reading on a particular area. As a guy, I realized from reading this book, that American feminism doesn't have its roots in the sexual revolution of the 1960's or the Women's Liberation movement of the 1970's but goes back to the huge number of different roles/occupations women had to, and wanted to, play in the early 1940's during this war, and after this war was over. I highly recommend this book to everyone!
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