Pledging Allegiance: American Identity and the Bond Drive of World War II

Pledging Allegiance: American Identity and the Bond Drive of World War II

by Lawrence R. Samuel

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
During WWII, U.S. citizens purchased considerably more than $150 billion worth of war bonds. Calling the war bond the most successful consumer product ever sold in history, Samuel suggests that the Treasury Department's seven bond campaigns produced not only revenue but a diversified national identity, a "cultural synergy" in which "[m]arkers of ethnicity and race commingled with those of classic patriotism." Samuel predicates his work on the belief that a pluralistic version of democracy was the "crucial legacy of World War II" and that the Roosevelt administration fostered cultural diversity "in order to demonstrate the success of the unique American experiment." Though Samuel offers ample evidence that ethnic Americans and African Americans participated enthusiastically in the war-bond drives, he fails to question critically the rhetoric of the Roosevelt administration. As a result, much of the book is tainted by an optimism that often rings hollow. Even so, Samuel does offer some suggestive insights, especially as he traces the civil rights movement back to the war years and to the 1942 "Double-V" bond campaign, which equated Nazism and racism and bore the motto "Victory over enemies abroad and at home." This is one of the few instances in which Samuel notes the disparity between wartime ideology and actual practices: the campaign was quieted on account of its "subversive language." More such rigorous assessment of his subject matter would have greatly enhanced Samuel's overall argument. Illustrations not seen by PW. (June)
Library Journal
Samuel, the president of a Minneapolis consulting firm, explores here the role of the World War II bond drives. The author builds a convincing case that the drives were developed to help consolidate American society. Besides raising money for the war, the drives were intended to build public consensus by including all racial and ethnic groups. This aspect of the bond drives became one of the most successful marketing campaigns ever devised. Samuel writes engagingly, especially on the African American community, whose participation was not a "given" in those daysfor good reason. While the author has a tendency to overuse examples, some 40 illustrations and photographs show the wide support for the drives. Recommended for World War II collections.Mark E. Ellis, Albany State Univ., Ga.

Product Details

Smithsonian Institution Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.41(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.92(d)

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