America in the Great War: The Rise of the War Welfare State

America in the Great War: The Rise of the War Welfare State

by Ronald Schaffer, Richard Wilkinson
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

After such conflicts as World War II, Vietnam, and now the Persian Gulf, the First World War seems a distant, almost ancient event. It conjures up images of trenches, horse-drawn wagons, and old-fashioned wide-brimmed helmets--a conflict closer to the Civil War than to our own time. It hardly seems an American war at all, considering we fought for scarcely over a

Overview

After such conflicts as World War II, Vietnam, and now the Persian Gulf, the First World War seems a distant, almost ancient event. It conjures up images of trenches, horse-drawn wagons, and old-fashioned wide-brimmed helmets--a conflict closer to the Civil War than to our own time. It hardly seems an American war at all, considering we fought for scarcely over a year in a primarily European struggle. But, as Ronald Schaffer recounts in this fascinating new book, the Great War wrought a dramatic revolution in America, wrenching a diverse, unregulated, nineteenth-century society into the modern age. Ranging from the Oval Office to corporate boardroom, from the farmyard to the battlefield, America in the Great War details a nation reshaped by the demands of total war. Schaffer shows how the Wilson Administration used persuasion, manipulation, direct control, and the cooperation of private industries and organizations to mobilize a freewheeling, individualist country. The result was a war-welfare state, imposing the federal government on almost every aspect of American life. He describes how it spread propaganda, enforced censorship, and stifled dissent. Political radicals, religious pacifists, German-Americans, even average people who voiced honest doubts about the war suffered arrest and imprisonment. The government extended its control over most of the nation's economic life through a series of new agencies--largely filled with managers from private business, who used their new positions to eliminate competition and secure other personal and corporate gains. Schaffer also details the efforts of scholars, scientists, workers, women, African- Americans, and of social, medical, and moral reformers, to use the war to advance their own agendas even as they contributed to the drive for victory. And not the least important is his account of how soldiers reacted to the reality of war--both at the front lines and at the rear--revealing what brought the doughboys to the battlefield, and how they went through not only horror and disillusionment but felt a fervent patriotism as well. Some of the upheavals Schaffer describes were fleeting--as seen in the thousands of women who had to leave their wartime jobs when the boys came home--but others meant permanent change and set precedents for such future programs as the New Deal. By showing how American life would never be the same again after the Armistice, America in the Great War lays a new foundation for understanding both the First World War and twentieth-century America.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Schaffer has provided an effective summary that will inform students, enliven discussion in college courses, and remind readers that World War I yet influences American society and economy."—History

"A bold and provocative effort. Ronald Schaffer argues convincingly that a revolution in America, caused by the Great War, resulted in a war welfare state with pervasive federal government control. Ranging from the farmyard to the battlefield, he focuses on two themes: government's management of war and Americans' use of the conflict to advance their personal agendas....An impressive work."—Military History

"By far the finest account that we have of the mighty effort of the United States at and in Europe during the First World War."—Arthur S. Link

"A thought-provoking book that describes the U.S. government's involvement in fostering support for the First World War in its soldiers and citizens....Extremely well researched...and is virtually chock full of information....For the student, historian, or military buff interested in the First World War, this book is a worthwhile investment. You may find, as I did, that you will want to re-read it several times."—Over There

"A very readable text with a clear—and reasonable—point of view. It should work well with students."—Manfred Jonas, Union College

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199923311
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
04/28/1994
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Ronald Schaffer is Professor of History at California State University, Northridge, and is the author of Wings of Judgment: American Bombing in World War II.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >