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Section 2.1


God, Country and Self-Interest:
A Social History of the World War II Rank-and-File

Toby Terrar

Department of History, City University of Los Angeles

What does "patriotism" and the "golden rule" mean to America's working people? Should the discussion include "God and Country" for whom and for what? This is an ambitious study of how the rank-and-file make the best of wars that are not theirs, notwithstanding the national media, politicians and clergy. It is based on a World War II family as revealed by 350 contemporary letters, 80 photographs, interviews with squadron and unit members, military records, contemporary newspaper accounts and scholarly literature.

One of the protagonists is a Coffeyville, Kansas working-class, Catholic youth who became a Navy CVE carrier pilot assigned to the Chenango. His intellectual development was tempered not only in his hometown but by combat at Tarawa, the Marshalls, the Marianas and the Philippines. The other protagonist is a Sumter, South Carolina Methodist farm-girl who became a Navy nurse assigned to the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California and to the Marine Corps Dispensary at El Centro.

Besides California, the other locations in which they served are surveyed: war-time Texas, Illinois, Rhode Island, Michigan, Hawaii and the South Pacific. Their experience as to what the war was and was not about, addresses the big question: the golden rule and the causes of war. This issue is ignored by chauvinist studies such as Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation.

Dr. Terrar (PhD, UCLA) has published some 50 articles in scholarly journals on military, intellectual and religious history.


260 pages, Illustrations, Index and Bibliography.
Paper: $9.95. Publication date: Summer, 2004.
Cloth: $16.95. Publication date: Summer, 2004.
Digital copy: available for free in Microsoft Word format (without graphics) as an e-mail attachment upon request.


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