'Daddy's Gone to War'

'Daddy's Gone to War' : The Second World War in the Lives of America's Children

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Looking out a second-story window of her family's quarters at the Pearl Harbor naval base on December 7, 1941, eleven-year-old Jackie Smith could see not only the Rising Sun insignias on the wings of attacking Japanese bombers, but the faces of the pilots inside. Most American children on the home front during the Second World War saw the enemy only in newsreels and the pages of Life Magazine, but from Pearl Harbor on, "the war"--with its blackouts, air raids, and government rationing--became a dramatic presence in all of their lives. Thirty million Americans relocated, 3,700,000 homemakers entered the labor force, sparking a national debate over working mothers and latchkey children, and millions of enlisted fathers and older brothers suddenly disappeared overseas or to far-off army bases. By the end of the war, 180,000 American children had lost their fathers. In "Daddy's Gone to War," William M. Tuttle, Jr., offers a fascinating and often poignant exploration of wartime America, and one of generation's odyssey from childhood to middle age. The voices of the home front children are vividly present in excerpts from the 2,500 letters Tuttle solicited from men and women across the country who are now in their fifties and sixties. From scrap-collection drives and Saturday matinees to the atomic bomb and V-J Day, here is the Second World War through the eyes of America's children. Women relive the frustration of always having to play nurses in neighborhood war games, and men remember being both afraid and eager to grow up and go to war themselves. (Not all were willing to wait. Tuttle tells of one twelve year old boy who strode into an Arizona recruiting office and declared, "I don't need my mother's consent...I'm a midget.") Former home front children recall as though it were yesterday the pain of saying good-bye, perhaps forever, to an enlisting father posted overseas and the sometimes equally unsettling experience of a long-absent father's return. A pioneering effort to reinvent the way we look at history and childhood, "Daddy's Gone to War" views the experiences of ordinary children through the lens of developmental psychology. Tuttle argues that the Second World War left an indelible imprint on the dreams and nightmares of an American generation, not only in childhood, but in adulthood as well. Drawing on his wide-ranging research, he makes the case that America's wartime belief in democracy and its rightful leadership of the Free World, as well as its assumptions about marriage and the family and the need to get ahead, remained largely unchallenged until the tumultuous years of the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam and Watergate. As the hopes and expectations of the home front children changed, so did their country's. In telling the story of a generation, Tuttle provides a vital missing piece of American cultural history.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 150 x 228 x 28mm | 580.6g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0195096495
  • 9780195096491

Review quote

"An exemplary combination of solid primary source-work, elegant readability, and theoretical creativity, William Tuttle's Daddy's Gone to War will be of particular interest to historians of childhood and the life course, and of potentially more generl interest to anyone born in the United States between the mid-1930s and the mid-1940s."--Journal of Social History"This analysis of testimony from more than 2,000 is a valuable and moving book."--The New York Times Book Review"In a felicitous synthesis of history, sociology, psychology, and anthropology, Tuttle represents in rich detail the intersection between public events and the way young children perceived them during World War II. Identifying differences of class, race, religion, age, gender, and geographical and ethnic background, Tuttle describes the psychic landscape and the challenges that shaped a generation of children now entering its 50s....Artful and absorbing."--Kirkus Reviews"Well written, balanced....The human story Tuttle tells makes a fascinating book."--The Kansas City Star"Tuttle creates a vivid picture of American children during the Second World War through the letters and recollections of home-front children themselves....From the first page to the last, the reader will hope that the narrative will not end. In the 263 pages of text the reader will be glued to each and every vignette discovering another fascinating aspect of the American home front. By using childhood experiences, Tuttle has demonstrated the value of social history as an important tool in understanding the Second World War, and in the process we discover more about ourselves."--Kansas History
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Back cover copy

In 'Daddy's Gone to War, ' the author offers a fascinating and often poignant exploration of wartime America, and one generation's odyssey from childhood to middle age. Drawing on wide-ranging research, Tuttle argues that the Second World War left an indelible imprint on the dreams and nightmares of an American generation, not only in childhood, but in adulthood as well.
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About William M. Tuttle

William M. Tuttle, Jr., is Professor of History and American Studies at the University of Kansas. His books include Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919; W.E.B. Du Bois; with David M. Katzman, Plain Folk; and with Mary Beth Norton and others, A People and A Nation.
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Rating details

33 ratings
3.63 out of 5 stars
5 18% (6)
4 33% (11)
3 42% (14)
2 6% (2)
1 0% (0)
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