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Since You Went Away: World War II Letters from American Women on the Home Front Paperback – April 21, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0700607143 ISBN-10: 0700607145

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (April 21, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700607145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700607143
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From among 25,000 of an estimated six billion letters sent overseas during World War II, history professors Litoff (Bryant College, Rhode Island) and Smith (University of Maine) have culled and skillfully edited a sampling by 400 American women. These letters, starting with one to a seaman wounded at Pearl Harbor, are compelling documents of home-front life in varied ethnic, cultural and financial milieus. Tragic, touching and funny, the correspondence is full of prosaic news and gossip about jobs and neighbors, along with accounts of births and intimate allusions to love-making. The stress of separation was intensified for women whose loved ones were hospitalized, or imprisoned as either conscientious objectors or security risks. Some women wrote General MacArthur and others for news of missing men or to obtain details of their deaths. Many of these heartrending documents also express acceptance--and even pride--in the sacrifices required by war. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

"They made it possible for me to retain my sanity in an insane world," wrote one pilot about the letters his wife sent him throughout World War II. The letters contained in this collection explain the soldier's sentiments. Whether full of passionate longing for a missing sweetheart or merely detailing domestic gossip, the letters offer a rich introduction to how American women experienced the war. Since military authorities ordered soldiers not to keep any letters written them by their loved ones, the authors have done a magnificent service in obtaining letters that soldiers either surreptitiously hid or whose authors copied them before sending them on. The "G.I." generation seems to be growing aware of its mortality, and two couple's collections have appeared recently (Robert and James Eastons's Love and War, LJ 4/15/91; and Charles and Barbara Woodall's Miss You, LJ 4/1/590). Because of its inclusiveness and sensitivity, however, most libraries will want to buy this.
- Ann H. Sullivan, Tompkins Cortland Community Coll., Dryden, N.Y.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Also lots of pictures of the time.
Elsie Wilkinson
One of the most interesting things about the book is reading the letters women wrote to their men, You could feel their fear and lonelyness.
Baffle Raffle
It is a remarkable resource, a fantastic read, and a rich collection of primary documents.
doc peterson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This book of letters is so revealing of that period in time.
It lays the emotions of the women left behind during war time right out in the open for all to feel and experience. This book has become a part of my life. I work at a college and when we have a program that needs a reading done I am always called on to read from "my" book of WWII letters from home. I feel like these letters are my children and each one is crying out to be heard and I really do hate to have to pick only a couple to read. This book is that good. I feel that this book should be read by everybody especially young people. I get very good response after my readings and some very emotional responses as well. This is a truly wonderful book and I recommend it to everyone.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Christine Hartman on April 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
I'm very interested in the powerful tapestry of the US homefront during WWII. This book provides a wide variety of first hand accounts of what was happening and more importantly how people felt about these events. The power comes from the fact that the words were written at the time rather than as later rememberances tainted by subsequent experiences. The only selectivity is in the letters people chose to save. But I think the authors have done a good job in trying to mitigate this natural bias by drawing from a wide variety of sources.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on November 11, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Compiling 400 letters, Litoff and Smith give readers a very personal look at what World War II was life for American women at home. Reading them is an almost vouyeristic experience, as these women share their thoughts, struggles, personal victories and tragedies.

The book is divided topcially rather than chronologically, giving the reader an opportunity to focus in on one aspect of the war. For example, "I Took a War Job" focuses exclusively on the liberating and empowering experience women felt in working in the defense industry (and making a man's wages.) The most touching and strongest chapter, "The Price of Victory" dealt with the loss of a loved one - husbands, brothers, lovers. The letters are from all social classes, races and parts of the country, providing a representative view, and speaking to the commonality of experiences. It is a remarkable resource, a fantastic read, and a rich collection of primary documents. For the professioal historian, I highly recommend it. For the lay reader, it is as insightful as it is fascinating. Recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robin Leaette on July 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
I study all kinds of stuff from the WW2 homefront. I really liked this book. It's an easy read, however, you really get to know what it was like for the women who had to stay home during the war. I learned really early in my studies to NOT just listen to what the propoganda tells you. It was not all USO swing dances, troubles finding nylons and writing letters.

The only thing I didn't like about the book is that the letters are edited. I read the book "war letters" before this one and I was spoiled because the letters in that book are unedited and even includes spelling errors, etc but they are exactly how the soldiers wrote their letters. So when I read "since you went away", I was kinda disappointed that the author only gave you what they thought was important in the letter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RM LIght on January 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my daughter to read on a trip overseas, hoping it would be a nice distraction on the long triip. She absolutely loves it!. She feels like she gets to know the "characters" both from the author's description of the individuals and their relationships as well as the letter that are included in the book. She has an interest in this era, so it was a perfect choice; a book she could pick up and put down easily but also become engrossed in when she had the time.
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