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Soldiers to Citizens: The G.I. Bill and the Making of the Greatest Generation 1st Edition

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195180978
ISBN-10: 0195180976
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Editorial Reviews


"As a beneficiary of the GI Bill, I can't recommend enough Suzanne Mettler's examination of the Bill and its transformative effect on the lives of so many veterans like me. It's clear that Mettler has come to know the GI Bill through the veterans she met in the course of her research, and the result is as accurate a description of its design, implementation, and of the experiences of the soldiers who benefited from it as I have read. This book is a must-read not only for those interested in the Greatest Generation but also for anyone who wants to know what it takes to make a great country." --Senator Bob Dole

"The GI Bill changed my life after my service in the Korean War just as it changed the lives of the World War II veterans whose experiences Mettler brings to light. They provide unassailable evidence of how a federal program revolutionized America for the better. But do not treat Soldiers to Citizens as simply a portrait of the past. This book offers a potent and timely counter argument to those in power who seek to privatize every non-military function of government and remove all sense of shared sacrifice or shared benefit." --Charles Rangel, U.S. Congressman

"Mettler's terrific new book explores a little-known, but momentous chapter in the history of the 'Greatest Generation' of America's WWII veterans--why they became the most civic-minded generation in our history. She shows that the GI Bill was one of the great success stories in American public policy, a story that is astonishingly relevant to debates today about civic renewal and the role of government. For contemporary civic reformers this book is must reading." --Robert D. Putnam, Malkin Professor of Public Policy, Harvard University, and author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

"Breaks new ground in the study of the Greatest Generation. Mettler shows conclusively how the GI Bill not only helped male veterans improve "their stake in society" but how it also gave them the direction and tools to improve the society in which they had a stake." --Montgomery C. Meigs, General, US Army, Retired, and Louis A. Bantle Chair, Maxwell School of Syracuse University

"Suzanne Mettler has written a magnificent book, showing how the GI Bill enabled soldiers returning from World War II to become fully participating citizens in American democracy. Not only did the GI Bill open access to education; it delivered benefits in a dignified way and demonstrated that government could make a positive difference in the lives of individuals and the nation. The experiences--and many individual voices--of the World War II generation come through loud and clear in this book. Scholars and students will gain a fresh perspective on the effects of public policy on citizen participation. And general readers will see what government at its best can do to spread opportunity and enrich citizenship in America."--Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, and Director of the Center for American Political Studies, Harvard University, and author of Diminished Democracy: From Membership to Management in American Civic Life

About the Author

Suzanne Mettler is Alumni Associate Professor of Political Science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, at Syracuse University. She is the author of the prize-winning Dividing Citizens.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195180976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195180978
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.1 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,228,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer on October 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is such an articulately composed analysis of one of the United States' most successful public policies. In "Soldiers to Citizens," Suzanne Mettler outlines how the educational provisions of the G.I. Bill created what she refers to as "the greatest generation." The G.I. Bill not only fulfilled its intention of rewarding veterans for their selfless acts of patriotism, but it provided the opportunity for upward mobility, it increased civic engagement and strengthened political involvement.

With the constant media bombardment of negative political images, it's easy to gain a sense of cynicism toward our government. "Soldiers To Citizens" provides an optimistic view of how our government can positively affect our citizens through the implementation of strong public programs. Through personal interviews and extensive research, Mettler provides an intriguing analysis. I am fortunate enough to be a student of Mettler's. Simply put - she's brilliant.

I recommend this book to US politics and policy students, public servants, veterans, those in academia or anyone who has a genuine interest in American public policy.
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8 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Richard Thompson on February 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The GI Bill is the subject of a great book. The human interest stories of people affected by this landmark legislation should inspire us all. Unfortunately, this is not that book. It reads like a doctoral dissertation (which it may well be), with all the dryness and academic disinterest that implies. We get statistics and conclusions, with random personal impacts thrown in as filler. Never once do we get engaged in the subject. I looked forward to this book, but I read to the end out of a sense of duty, not because I really wanted to. The opportunity for a great book about the GI Bill was there. Ms. Mettler wasted it. The stars are for the stats, not the story.
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5 of 24 people found the following review helpful By James Waller on November 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
Mettler takes a case-study approach to prove a causal relationship between the G.I. Bill and the benefit of Government programs. The initial argument set up by Mettler, that the G.I. Bill transformed America into a more civic society through a more civic-sensitive populace is an immensely compelling one. While learning this causal relationship between the G.I. Bill and its effect on American culture seems to be an obvious one and needs not a whole book to address such an effect. However, as the book delves deeper into the cause and effects of the G.I. Bill, it becomes readily apparent that such explanations are not only interesting, but also more so imperative to address and contemplate. Mettler argues with well-researched legitimacy and scholarly insight that without (a) the development of and (b) the fluid implementation of the G.I. Bill, American culture would lack the important level of civic responsibility that makes America the great country it is today.

With the help of the subsidies provided for by G.I. Bill, 7.8 million veterans cycled through higher education. Mettler exhaustively points out the hard truth, that without such subsidies, most of the 7.8 million benefited soldiers would have lacked the financial stability to receive such education. Through the enrollment of these soldiers, a positive trend of the reformation of America's civic culture took place.

One important reformation came in the form of de-segregation or increased inclusivity of minorities. This increased inclusivity not only meant a higher enrollment among Jews and Catholics, but for blacks as well. Black enrollment in universities in the North and the Westi, "probably [totaled] some four or five students as contrasted with two or three thousand formerly.
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