- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1 edition (July 30, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316831565
- ISBN-13: 978-0316831567
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II 1st Edition
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From a Navajo code talker to a Tuskegee pilot, Takaki examines the many contributions and sacrifices of America's minorities--blacks, Chinese, Native Americans and others--during World War II. Photos.
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In successive chapters, Takaki focuses on the abuses and injustices resulting from the exclusion of minority workers from defense industries, the Jim Crow statutes that segregated African Americans at home and in the army, the unemployment and poverty that greeted returning Native Americans veterans, the hostility towards Mexican Americans for the "zoot suits" worn by their youth, the laws prohibiting longtime Asian laborers from becoming citizens because they were not "white," the forced internment of Japanese Americans, the callousness that turned away Jewish refugees from our ports. He then examines the controversy surrounding the motivations for using the atomic bomb against civilian population centers.
Yet the author also reveals the many advances that the war delivered to ethnic groups. Minority communities contributed tens of thousands of soldiers who fought valiantly on the battlefront and earned the respect and friendship of their white compatriots. The shortage of domestic workers forced reluctant industries to hire non-white workers. A. Philip Randolph and his colleagues launched the civil rights movement by organizing a march on Washington, which was cancelled after Roosevelt signed executive order 8802, abolishing discrimination in government and defense jobs. (The order was largely symbolic, since it was hardly enforced, but in retrospect it was clearly a major first step.) And the sanguine final chapter demonstrates that, although the struggle for civil rights suffered setbacks during the next two decades, there really was no turning back.
Focusing one's attention on the domestic issues of the time, of course, does not minimize the contribution of our armed forces abroad; if anything, such a discussion emphasizes that the fight against prejudice was equally important: both because non-white citizens were serving our country and because our enemies used examples of American intolerance as propaganda against the U.S.--and because it was morally necessary. Although written by an academic, this concise book is both fascinating and approachable; it should be read by all Americans who care about freedom. It's a reminder of why we fought what Studs Terkel called "the Good War": the "double victory" of increasing liberty not only for Europeans and Asians but for every American as well.
Double Victory takes an interesting look, in most cases, at the "forgotten" history of World War II. An eminenent historian of munticulturalism in American life, Takaki assembles the past in a manner that the general reader will find pleasing. The professional, however, will be disappointed that the notes appear at the end of the book and thus finds himself flipping back and forth to discover the source of the author's information. Much of the text is, indeed, "assembled" because it has appeared in print elsewhere. A small percentage of the author's work is based upon new research. This is unfortunate, but Takaki provides an important service by pulling previously published interviews, letters, biographical and autobiographical accounts of wartime experiences, and information contained in journal articles into one slim volume.
Takaki's style is clean, straightforward, informative, and engaging. Double Victory is not a "page turner," but it holds the reader's interest and leaves him with a more complete perspective of a crucial time in American life.