Book Report: "The Best War Ever - America and World War II" by Michael C.C. Adams
The Best War Ever - America and World War II is a non-fiction book written by Michael Adams. The latest edition was published in 2015. Adams brings out another side of the war unknown to the reader. He disproves the popular war image promoted by the historians and the mainstream media and explores its real horrors. He writes that that the glorifying aspects of the World War II are deceptive and misleading. This book report highlights the reasons why Adams thinks that what the public knows about this war is often wrong and misleading information based on the government propaganda and Hollywood films.
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I agree with Adams that initially America together with the allied forces went to war for the right reasons. Based on historical judgment, it was the right thing to stop Hitler’s intention to dominate the world; however, the war changed ideas and ideologies. As the title suggests, the Americans emerged from the war with a lot of positivism on the past five war years. Using examples from Hollywood, Adams outlines that it was a myth created by the intense government propaganda. The widespread economic prosperity and Hollywood glamorization of the war shielded the public from the horrifying truth of the war. I agree with the author that since the war was being fought on the other side of the Pacific, the public could easily be fed on propaganda.
The U.S army is often considered as the most advanced in terms of weaponry and skills and supposedly viewed as having the highest ethical standards on the war front. For example, on the page 100, Adams states that the common perception was that American soldiers who perished died gloriously and nobly not being blown into pieces. For to exist, The author states that several factors created such a distorted myth with he chief factor being that the whole war was fought far away from the U.S. soil in far off lands except for the bombing of the Pearl Harbor (Adams, 2015, p. 100). I agree with him that over time, news became a reality, and soon people started considering what they saw on television as the absolute truth. His argument makes sense because with all the mainstream media airing the same news, it was hard not to believe it was the only truth.
With the conflict taking place on the other side of the ocean, the Americans were protected from the destruction, brutality, and the suffering of the soldiers and civilians. Hence, the public relied on the mainstream media to shape their view regarding the war. Adams gives the example of advertisements implying that on buying a war bond, one’s sacrifice was just as similar as that of the soldier on the war front (Adams, 2015, p. 74). The war industry as well as the government played on the patriotism of Americans to encourage them to buy their products and support the war respectively. Through motion pictures, the public was falsely made to believe in “glorified war” (Wilms & Rasch, 2006, p. 266). The economic prosperity is another factor that led to the war getting dubbed “the best war ever.” The U.S. GDP increased by sixty percent during the War Era, which was in stark contrast to the depression era of the 30s that had shrunk the economy considerably (2015, p.114).
However, in reality, the war was horrific; the land and coast in the battlefront was littered with burnt tanks, shattered boats, trucks, torsos, buttocks, hands, and heads (Adams, 2015, p.100). That level of carnage was unknown to the public, and it is no wonder that when soldiers on leave told of this, they were considered the victims of momism and cowards (Kinder, 2015). Adams further outlines that the American soldiers were not that different as they tradedd cigarettes, clothing, and food with desperate women for sex (2015, p.93). This kind of behavior did not make it to the theatres, neither did the image of garbage being dumped on the dead enemies and soldiers urinating into the mouths of the dead (Adams, 2015, p. 112). Having seen the reality of the recent wars around the world especially the one taking place in Syria, it is now absurd to believe in the illusion painted by Hollywood and government since carnage is part of war.
I also agree with the author that it is illogical for the children to behave well when their fathers were fighting overseas and their mothers were in the production lines (Costigliola & Hogan, 2013). What this war brought to the youth was more job opportunities; moreover, it created a teen culture with a high pregnancy rate among the girls and rise of the rate of venereal diseases as the book observes (Adams, 2015, p. 124). Moreover, racism continued to exist and even thrived among the soldiers in the war front. For example, the soldiers of African-American origin continued to be discriminated against while thousands of Americans of Japanese descent were put in detention centers back in the U.S.
Contrary to the beliefs of many people and generations, this was not a good time as depicted in many Hollywood films and government propaganda outlets. Using propaganda and censorship, the government made sure that a distorted view of the war reached home while Hollywood movies and magazine articles painted a specific picture intended to garner support for the war. The book urges that despite the myth, we should never forget that the war generation that preserved democracy and saved the world from tyrannical dictators. I find this book very unique uncovering the reader the other side of the story that the government, movies, and magazines were not willing to portray.
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