62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Thought-Provoking
This is a collection by noted author Studs Turkel of oral accounts given to him that relate to experiences in World War II. There are many of these vignettes, and they cover a lot of ground. Turkel has carefully gathered tales from combatants and non-combatants alike. Included in the latter category are reminiscences from Japanese-Americans who were placed in West Coast...
Published on December 30, 2001 by Rodney Meek
1.0 out of 5 stars Amazon butchered the Kindle edition - the book itself is excellent
The book itself is wonderful. Amazon butchered the Kindle version of this classic oral history. It was chalk full of typos, formatting errors and inconsistencies with the original published text. I called customer service several times and was forced to repeat and give specific reference to the errors every time I called. My complaint was never resolved I will NEVER...
Published 10 days ago by MP
Most Helpful First | Newest First
62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Thought-Provoking,
This is a collection by noted author Studs Turkel of oral accounts given to him that relate to experiences in World War II. There are many of these vignettes, and they cover a lot of ground. Turkel has carefully gathered tales from combatants and non-combatants alike. Included in the latter category are reminiscences from Japanese-Americans who were placed in West Coast internment camps, conscientious objectors, "Rosie the Riveters", senior civil servants, wives of soldiers serving overseas, and workers in the Manhattan Project. As for the warriors, Turkel draws from both the European and Pacific theaters, and from various ranks in all of the military branches, and from several of the warring nations.
What I found most surprising was the significant degree of disappointment and disillusionment expressed by many of the interviewees. Far more of these people than I would have expected felt the war was unjust or unnecessary and that the U.S. should not have been involved, or, having been drawn into the conflict, that America was prosecuting the war foolishly and narrow-mindedly. A large number also state their contempt for the government in the post-WWII years and the dawn of the Cold War.
It is quite striking to see the pessimism and fatalism of a good number of the people whom Terkel interviewed, so much so that I wonder if the author was deliberately skewing his samples to adhere with his own beliefs. Indeed, it's not a mistake that the book's title is in ironic quotation marks; clearly, Terkel begs to differ with those who have held WWII to be a "good war". There is a distinct tone throughout that this was a war that was forced upon the American people, and that many opportunities for lasting peace in the aftermath were squandered.
Terkel has succeeded in rounding up people from all walks of life for inclusion in this collection. Some of the more notable names are Milton Caniff (the cartoonist), Bill Mauldin, John Kenneth Galbraith, W. Averell Harriman, Mike Royko, Pauline Kael, John Houseman, and Maxine Andrews.
While I found the significant strain of disgust and despair to be rather disquieting, this is nevertheless a book that presents a different view than the popular "Greatest Generation" tomes of recent years. It's certainly worth reading in these current troubled times, if only to get another point of view.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A special book, an important message,
"The Good War" has had a profound on my perspective of history. I have always been a fascinated student of World War II, but Terkel's masterpiece led me to completely re-evaluate how I viewed the Second World War.
The book is somewhat deceiving because while it seems light, it is the exact opposite. Many of the accounts given by the men and women affected by the war are extremely powerful, and it is difficult to read through many of them in a row without having to stop and ponder their implications.
There is no doubt Terkel wrote this book to push his support of pacifism. While he probably edited the accounts to make his message more pointed, it does not really matter. Yes, World War II was "good" in that it was necessary to stop the Nazi war machine. But it was not "good" because no war can be good. World War II is often portrayed as this great event, but Terkel reveals the War for what it really was: vital for the future of the world, but devastating to millions whose lives were transformed by it.
"The Good War" is a lot of like "Flags of Our Fathers" by James Bradley. It is shows the amazing heroism displayed by people during the War, but at the same time vividly illustrates the horrors sometimes forgotten when people think about World War II. Make no mistake: I agree that the heroism of our vets during the war is unparalleled in history. I just think the book gives an important perspective that should not be ignored.
If you want to gain a new perspective of what many call the "good war" I highly recommend Studs Terkels' powerful book.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A microcosm of the world during the last just war,
Studs Terkel's book was on my shelves for many years, and I've basically ignored it for all that time. But when it was time to pick a new book to read from my library, I saw it sitting there - and in light of the events of September 11, it somehow seemed that this was the perfect time to read this book, and that this was the perfect book for the time.
For this book, Terkel interviewed men and women from all walks of life, and from both sides of the war, in order to paint as complete a picture of that time as possible. He has more than succeeded. Some of his interviewees were for the war; a few were against it, even when they were in the thick of it. Some told of the injustices done to Japanese-Americans, and some told of what they found when they arrived at the gates of Buchenwald.
Each man and woman has their own story to tell, and Terkel lets them tell it in their own voice. The grammar, syntax, etc. varies from person to person, told exactly as Terkel recorded it. There are some accounts from famous people (John Kenneth Galbraith, Mike Royko, and Maxine Andrews, to name a few), but most of the stories are told by the so-called common people. And even those people whose names are known outside of this book don't put on any airs when they allow Terkel to record them.
That single fact makes this the best book on or about any war that I've ever read - beyond even such admitted classics as "From Here to Eternity", "The 13th Valley", and "Battle Cry". Those books, and many others like them, are very good - but the people in them are all larger than life. You don't get that impression reading these accounts.
Kudos to Studs Terkel for preserving these stories and letting us see the real face of World War II.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There's no such thing as a good war or a bad peace",
The above quotation was on the quote page of Studs Terkel's 1984 book "The Good War." "The Good War" is an oral history of World War II. That's something Mr. Terkel excels at. His other oral histories include Hard Times and
Working. This is a must for anyone's World War II bookshelf.
Don't give it away no matter what. Keep it under lock and key
because it's so precious. If you read only one book on World
War II, make it this one. Unlike Band of Brothers, which is about a company in a regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, this book wasn't made into an HBO miniseries. Buy it now. There are fewer World War II veterans now than there were twenty years ago. Once they're all dead, it's a lost
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Look at a Bygone Era,
Studs Terkel's The Good War is a very entertaining set of oral histories about World War II. By allowing people to tell their own stories in their own words, Terkel sweeps his readers along on a fascinating trip back in time. Even at roughly 600 pages, The Good War is difficult to put down.
The Good War definitely will encourage you to think. Terkel wants his readers to ponder whether war can ever be justified. Another poignant aspect of The Good War is the fact that the vast majority of the interview subjects must be deceased by now; in fact, several died before the book's original 1984 publication. The Good War is the sort of book that will force you to reflect, even long after you have finished reading it.
While I would recommend The Good War, it is possible to offer a few criticisms.
As several reviewers have noted, Terkel is devoted to debunking the notion that WWII was, in any way, good. If there was a problem in those years, Terkel doesn't just cover it, he covers it at length. The fact that Terkel wants to take away our rose-colored glasses does not bother me. But I have been lucky enough to meet many World War II veterans; most of them are much less critical of WWII than are Terkel's interviewees. So, I wonder whether we hear from a disproportionate number of malcontents.
Another criticism is that Terkel tries to take on too much - even for 600 pages. The book meanders onto a number of topics that (while interesting) stray a bit far from WWII. For instance, Terkel has strong interests in the Spanish Civil War and the Cold War. These sections may be too far from the "main" story for some readers' tastes.
On the whole, however, The Good War is a fascinating look at a lost era. You will be entertained and you will also be left with much to think about after you finish.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and Personal Views of WW II - Can't Put it Down,
To present multiple views of World War 2, Terkel has recorded the words of gung ho enlisted men, army nurses, mothers of soldiers, USO volunteers, officers, war scientists, conscientious objectors, the wounded and embittered, the children of those who served, survivors of Nazi cruelty, Germans, Japanese, and Americans of all races.
It is an amazingly emotionally moving oral history. Because the reader is confronted with the words of real people, the book becomes a very personal experience. Some of the combat tales are as horrific as any from the war in Viet Nam. Likewise, the bureaucratic nonsense, the prejudice, the loss of life, the cruelty, the simple acts of heroism and sacrifice. Enormously poignant at times; often humorous, sometimes devastatingly sad, always gripping.
I am not much of a history buff, and perhaps this is the best level of historical writing for me, so I would recommend this to anyone who has even the slightest interest in what Americans were doing during that war.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an interesting oral history,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Studs Terkel interviewed hundreds of people asking them to tell him about their experiences during the Second World War. Those interviews are the stories included in his book, "The Good War."
If you are looking for a collection of "war stories" by combat veterans sharing their yarns of heroism under fire, look elsewhere; while there are some of those experiences here, the bulk of the book deals with the wider scope of the conflict - from "Rosie the riveter" to Japanese detainees, to survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (including Americans who occupied the cities weeks after the bombings. Sadly, they share similar stories.)
It is an interesting glimpse in time - of "simpler times" - when racism was the status quo (Terkel includes the experiences of Tuskeegee airmen and Naval ammo handlers and stevedores), when the military was segregated, when women took up jobs for the war effort, fully expecting to be fired once the war was over.
Terkel's book is primarily concerned with the experiences of Americans during the war, although he interviews some on the "other side" - a German war bride retelling her experiences during a bombing raid (the same raid her husband happened to be on - ironically bombing her town), of a German U-boat crew, of Japanese civlians. Their perspectives provide some balance to the book.
In the final analysis, it is an interesting read - not the sort of thing one could read cover-to-cover all at once; better, I think to read a few interviews and set it down, giving one the opportunity to reflect on how the seminal event of the twentieth century influenced not only those interviewed, but all of us. A worthwhile read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous book and interesting perspectives!,
By A Customer
I found this book to be eucational and moving as I encountered many different stories with a variety of perspectives that ranged from soilders in the Pacific to Europe and "every day" people from Hawaii to New York. The stories may be from the first day of the war to the last battle. I hung on every word as people, some who had never even shared their stories before, recounted their experiences. I laughed, I cried, and I was left with a better understanding of the war on a more personal level that moved me and may have changed my life and the way I view wars forever. I would recomend this book with the highest esteem.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing,
Studs Terkel is one of the most interesting journalists I have ever read. I picked up this book for my college US History class and I read far more entries than the ones assigned to us. Getting a clear picture of World War II is very difficult, especially given the nature of primary sources (like film reels advocating women to go to work, or whatever) which assert that the War was indisputably the "Good War." Through Terkel's book I have learned that WWII was much more complicated than a simple event of unity across the country. Making it work required a number of battles, and not every American citizen benefited from the events of the war. Terkel's striking vignettes provide a myriad fascinating perspectives from people affected by WWII in so many ways, and within each interview he finds a nugget of evidence that enhances (or sometimes redefines) history.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful way to see all the angles of the war,
This book is a bunch of short stories, 10 or less pages each, from people who had some kind of experience from World War II. What I found interesting was that, each of the stories in the book had experiences from all different angles of the war. Examples were from African Americans who showed how segregated the military was, to British, German, and Japanese civilians showed how life was in a constantly bombed community to scientist who help build the atomic bomb and what they feel about their work.
I found from reading this book how much this war has effected my life. This war was my grandparents war and from this war I have grown up in a safe and fruitful economic environment. In which the US was thought of as one of the major powers of the world. I believe that if this war did not come about the US would not have came out of the depression in the extreme way it did. This, and other factors, would led to the US not being a major power of the world. In this different US I believe I would not have been given the opportunities that I have had and enjoyed.
Before I though of World War II as the past, but now I think of it as what has created my present.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
The Good War: An Oral History of World War II by Studs Terkel (Audio Cassette - November 12, 1985)
Used & New from: $24.63