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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Look at a Bygone Era, May 17, 2008
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This review is from: The Good War: An Oral History of World War II (Paperback)
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.
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