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The Good War: An Oral History of World War II Paperback – January 1, 1997
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The Amazon Book Review
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Studs Terkel, the noted Chicago-based journalist, gathers the reminiscences of 121 participants in World War II (called "the good war" because, in the words of one soldier, "to see fascism defeated, nothing better could have happened to a human being"). These participants, men and women, famous and ordinary, tell stories that add immeasurably to our understanding of that cataclysmic time. One Soviet soldier recounts that, surrounded by the Germans, his comrades tapped the powder from their last cartridges and inserted notes to their families inside the casings; Russian children, he goes on, still turn these up every now and again and deliver the notes to the soldiers' families. Terkel touches on many themes along the way, including institutionalized racism in the United States military, the birth of the military-industrial complex, and the origins of the Cold War.
As in Hard Times and Working, this master interviewer again creates a turbulent epic of human experience by quoting the words of those who lived it. . . . A vivid resurrection of a lost time. -- Newsday
Deeply moving and profoundly important. -- Boston Globe
I promise you will remember your war years, if you were alive then, with extraordinary vividness as you go through Studs Terkel's book. Or, if you are too young to remember, this is the best place to get a sense of what people were feeling. -- Garry Wills, Chicago Tribune Book World
Incontestably one of the great human documents of all time. It has the essence and cumulative force of a hundred powerful war novels, without drawing on a single word of fiction. Among major historians Terkel is now in orbit all by himself, world class. -- Norman Corwin
Read this important book. -- Philadelphia Inquirer
Tremendously compelling, somehow dramatic and intimate at the same time, as if one has stumbled on private accounts in letters long locked in attic trunks...Mr. Terkel's book gives the American experience in World War Two great immediacy...In terms of plain human interest, Mr. Terkel may well have put together the most vivid collection of World War Two sketches ever gathered between covers. -- Loudon Wainwright, The New York Times Book Review
Top customer reviews
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I did my book reports in school, so I am not going to go into a lot of detail, but I think this book is important. I think it's a valuable contribution the the history of the time, and a must read for anyone that is interested in the history of WW2.
Yeah, my friend was right. WWZ was written in the same kind of narrative, maybe that's why it made such a good read.......
Great focus on the human factor. Ultimately a different and bluntly honest perspective on "the Greatest Generation". Book also touches on the fact that many problems lingering in international affairs are directly related to unresolved issues from during and before World War II.
The war, notes Turkel, was good for most Americans, ergo - the title. After a long, lean depression throughout the country, there were again plenty of jobs, plenty of money, and plenty of hell-raising. Also, Americans were happy to work hard and to lend their support to the war effort - in whatever way they could - because they thought they knew why the country was at war. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. Most active participants in the war survived the experience: there were 129 million Americans at that time, 5 million served on active military duty, 1 million of those were killed, wounded, or injured in the war. Most Americans interviewed considered the war years generally happy ones. Many of those who served in the military considered their war-time experiences the most exciting times of their lives.
When people spoke to the tape recorder about their lives during the war years, they automatically came up with the most exciting, most memorable, most tragic, most funny, most whatever - because these are stories that they've been thinking about, telling and retelling for over 30 years. That's what makes this book so readable. It's definitely not boring and it's definitely informative. Many people recalled a specific moment in their lives, when they were unbelievably lucky, and because they were lucky, they survived with their life.
In my view, if you are going to read just one book about WWII, this should be the book!
Most recent customer reviews
My only complaint was the used copy I got actually smelled of funk and stink.