From Library Journal
The G.I. Bill has been hailed as the Marshall Plan for America. It offered to pay college expenses for military veterans returning from World War II, making it a stairway to the middle class that was soon utilized by millions. The result was a social revolution leading to suburbia and even to our present information age. Author Bennett, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporter (Lambert Simnel and the Battle of Stoke, St. Martin's, 1987), feels that the huge education bill not only prevented a return to the Great Depression but suggests it actually headed off a Marxist surge in America. Bennett examines with journalistic verve the forces that made the great social experiment necessary and the political maneuvers that made it possible. With enthusiasm he relates how university faculties at first disdained the surging vets but soon came to cherish their pragmatic determination, which democratized higher education forever. Bennett offers an enthusiastic and detailed study of a necessary area. Recommended for public and academic libraries.?Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Prog., Edwards AFB, Cal.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A rarely told story: how the GI Bill loosed great unseen forces that helped to transform America from the working-class, largely agricultural society of the Great Depression and the New Deal into a largely middle-class society. Bennett, a former reporter for the Boston Herald and the Detroit News, begins by tracing the origins of the bill and the fight to make it law in 1944. The American Legion was particularly influential: Members who had fought in WW I remembered the shabby treatment they had received when they came home. The heart of the book, though, is Bennett's study of the ways in which the law helped transform postwar American life. It provided opportunities for education unavailable to previous generations, as well as low- priced home mortgages that helped fuel new suburbs and emptied ethnic ghettos. Mature, world-traveled GIs, most of them from the urban and rural working class, stormed college campuses in record numbers, filled honor rolls and deans' lists, raised student performance levels, and shook up the old, gentlemanly college culture. Millions of erstwhile blue-collar, rent-paying workers turned into professionals of every calling, as well as prosperous, skilled entrepreneurs and home-owners. This silent army, Bennett suggests, created a revolution in American life; GIs used the money they got to do vital if seemingly ordinary things and in the process created a more abundant and egalitarian society. The total postwar cost of $14.5 billion was an investment that returned manyfold more in revenue as veterans earned more and paid more taxes. Bennett believes that the GI Bill was the most successful government program since the Homestead Act. A refreshing look at a time of optimism, sacrifice, hard work, and achievement (despite the Cold War) when the American dream finally became a reality for millions. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.