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Warfare State: World War II Americans and the Age of Big Government Hardcover – August 4, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1St Edition edition (August 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199791015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199791019
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Warfare State is one of the most important books on the United States to be published in some time. Sparrow is not the first scholar to argue that it was World War II, rather than the New Deal, that shaped the postwar consensus in support of a stronger, more active federal government. But this clearly written, concise, and yet comprehensive book makes the argument more forcefully and fully than others. Warfare State is a book that historians and students of contemporary American politics need to master; this is scholarship at its best." --Foreign Affairs


"One finishes Warfare State with an appreciation of how beautifully wrought a piece of scholarship it is--meticulously researched, graceful written, and politically resonant." --History News Network


"James Sparrow's wide-ranging and deeply-researched book helps us to see modern America anew. Warfare State deftly shows how wartime reconfigurations of the U.S. economy, society, and political landscape fueled the explosive growth of centralized authority and set the contours of today's virulent debates about the role of the federal government. A brilliant debut."-Elizabeth Borgwardt, Washington University in St. Louis


"When did the American state become a leviathan? In this brilliant book, James Sparrow points to World War II rather than New Deal as the critical moment when the U.S. government entered the lives of its citizens in myriad and profound ways, revolutionizing American politics in the process. Warfare State tells this complex story more vividly, comprehensively, and acutely than any previous account. It also provides an indispensable guide to the battles over government legitimacy and power that so convulse America today." -Gary Gerstle, Vanderbilt University


"In challenging the conventional wisdom of a weak American state, James Sparrow brilliantly connects bureaucratic developments in Washington to political culture at the grassroots, showing how the mobilization for World War II permeated everyday life and transformed the meanings of national citizenship. This book deserves a prominent place among the seminal works of modern American political history."-Matthew Lassiter, University of Michigan


"The Warfare State is a potent blend of social and cultural history that sheds new light on one of the most important political moments in twentieth-century American history. Deploying a remarkable range of sources, Sparrow delves into the attitudes and practices of key clusters of citizens that range from workers to ethnic and racial groups, from front line soldiers to those producing military supplies back home. What emerges is a perspective that will no doubt form the basis for an important reinterpretation of the late New Deal years, World War II, and the Cold War society that grew out of it."-Brian Balogh, University of Virginia


"This beautifully written, wonderfully insightful book shows how World War II facilitated a huge expansion of federal government with little dissent. A powerful melding of nationalism and liberalism, of obligation and rights, convinced a nation of government skeptics to fight, work, and pay taxes to a vastly larger, more intrusive, but newly legitimate state. A must read for all interested in the nature and scope of American governance." -Andrea Louise Campbell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


"[An] important new book . . . Rarely is so comprehensive an argument delivered in so concise a manner . . . one finishes Warfare State with an appreciation of how beautifully wrought a piece of scholarship it is -- meticulously researched, gracefully written, and politically resonant." --HNN.com


"Warfare State is one of the most important books on the United States to be published in some time . . . a book that historians and students of contemporary American politics need to master; this is scholarship at its best." --Foreign Affairs


"Sparrow uses both primary and secondary sources to explore important questions about the growth of government that are still pertinent in today's world."--CHOICE


"Sparrow's book is an insightful blend of cultural deconstruction and abstract political analysis that examines the point at which state authority touches and intrudes on everyday life. His sources are tremendously rich and varied, and Sparrow shows a deft touch with popular culture, such as an inventive discussion of the 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast, whichhe uses to depict a society on edge in anticipation of war . . . an ambitious book that is essential to understanding the world we live in today." -- ournal of American History


About the Author


James T. Sparrow is Associate Professor of History at the University of Chicago.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ellis Hopkins on April 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James T. Sparrow's Warfare State: World War II Americans and the Age of Big Government will challenge the reader on what they think they know about the premier global conflict of the 20th Century. Sparrow's thesis is that it was the war, not the New Deal programs of the 1930s, which introduced Americans to a pervasive federal government. This book is extremely detailed and is not suited for the casual reader interested in broad outlines. Students of World War II will find their assumptions challenged by data that reveals the rift between the "combat soldier" and the "soldier of production". Other interesting topics include home front race relations, anti-Semitism, and the rumors generated by social mobility as a result of war industry employment. Warfare State is not easy to read but it is an important look beyond the accepted mythology of "the last good war".
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on April 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Author Sparrow contends that WWII brought big government to the U.S., not FDR's 'New Deal' welfare state. The number of people affected, as well as the breadth of government involvement dwarfed anything under the New Deal; besides, Sparrow contends the New Deal was winding down when WWII activities began.

Sparrow first notes that the sense of unity, bolstered by the draft, instilled a sense of equality and entitlement to full citizenship that government would have to respond to in future years. Another heritage was our historic break with more than a century of international aloofness, starting with Lend-Lease programs in 1941. Mass income taxation and vast structural deficits were both undertaken for the first time during WWII, and it also served to rebuild respect for business after the Great Depression. Basic goals of the government were widely accepted as valid and necessary, with the idealized figure of the combat soldier, and the millions he stood for, providing a unifying symbol through which diverse groups of civilians could be exhorted to meet their obligations to the nation. Big Government did not simply prevail, it became the prevailing common sense.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Publius on August 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Professor Sparrow has delivered an insightful account of how our twentieth-century national government -- for good or ill -- came to play such a pervasive role in the lives of its citizenry. With twenty-first-century American political discourse now dominated by talk of top-down initiatives (e.g., federal stimuli and out-of-whole-cloth job creation), "Warfare State" provides invaluable context for understanding our country's current trajectory.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Phil Wight on March 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While I'd highly recommend Sparrow's "Warfare State," I would encourage all academics to order this book in hard copy. The Kindle Edition lacks page numbers, citations, and a bibliography. For professional historians and serious students of history, this is simply unacceptable.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By educator on September 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent incite by an excellent scholar and writer.Awaiting more from this astute educator and author. His first of a trilogy!
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