- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1 edition (July 30, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316831565
- ISBN-13: 978-0316831567
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,747 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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America's entry into World War II made comrades-in-arms of men and women from every region and every walk of life, united in the battle for freedom and against fascism. It is no small irony, historian Ronald Takaki observes, that the armed struggle for democracy abroad "was accompanied by a disregard for our nation's declaration that 'all men are created equal'" in the form of institutional racism of many kinds, from the segregation of African American units to the imprisonment of Japanese Americans and the refusal to grant asylum to Jewish refugees.
In Double Victory, Takaki examines the many contributions of America's minorities to the war effort, celebrating the work of Mexican farm laborers and Anglo women welders, of Navajo code talkers and Filipino foot soldiers, who proclaimed themselves to be "men, not houseboys," of Chinese American combat nurses and Asian Indian gunners. These men and women, Takaki writes, made extraordinary sacrifices in their battle against enemies without and enemies within. Although their efforts were not always appreciated at the time, they helped set in motion the struggle for civil rights that would explode two decades later. Takaki's book is a welcome and much needed entry in the recent literature on the World War II era, and it merits the widest possible audience. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
A significant number of Americans fought WWII on two fronts, according to Berkeley ethicist Takaki (A Larger Memory; A Different Mirror; etc.): the Axis powers were one enemy; the other was racism on the home front. This is by now a conventional argument that Takaki's anecdotal narrative does more to illustrate than to develop, though the book does demonstrate more clearly than ever the degree to which America in the 1940s was a white man's country, as opposed to a melting pot. It shows as well the wartime responses of a variety of ethnic and cultural communitiesAMexicans, African-Americans, Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, Jews and Italians. Japanese-Americans get a full chapter to themselves, concluding with an analysis of Hiroshima as a manifestation of racism. Takaki shows how the combination of military service and war work simultaneously opened horizons and raised consciousness. Black women who left white kitchens for assembly lines gained economic autonomy and faced new patterns of racial slights. Mexicans who had spent their lives in barrios found communicating in English essential for the better-paying jobs that opened more rapidly than Anglos could fill them. More significant, however, is the extent to which Takaki's anecdotal evidence challenges a fundamental element of historical multiculturalism: rather than clinging to ethnic identities in response to American involvement in the war, those recorded here asserted their American identity in order to share in the war's patriotic spirit as well as its economic spoils. (The principal exception to this drive for assimilation were the nisei, who even before Pearl Harbor sought to "embrace their twoness" with a greater vehemence than other marginalized ethnic groups.) Takaki compellingly argues that these experiences prefigured the civil rights revolution. This book thus depicts, forcefully and clearly, the first steps toward an America that could be color-neutral. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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.