Thanks for the Memories: Love, Sex, and World War II

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 95%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (18) from $1.99   
  • New (5) from $32.31   
  • Used (13) from $1.99   


Thanks for the Memories destroys the historical myth that young men and women went about the business of war and stayed on the straight and narrow path. Rather, World War II provided new opportunities for sexual experimentation, for hasty marriages, for flourishing prostitution—and for love connections that have stood the test of time. Young men in the military, far away from family and home, "did things" they might never have done. Young women, many of whom went to work for the first time, experienced a freedom and independence most women had never known. Because of the war, courtships were cut short, couples married more quickly than normal, and husbands and wives were often separated for several years. Despite attempts to get back to "normal" after the war and the apparent "togetherness" of the 1950s, World War II had set change in motion, heralding the second wave of the women's liberation movement.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Written with great sensitivity and skill, this book makes the greatest generation more real to the succeeding generations; it exposes the young men and women of that time as being both stronger and more vulnerable than either history books or overly romantic movies sketch them."


"Jane Mersky Leder pricks the notion that men and women of the 'Greatest Generation' were all God-fearing….She writes well; the book is a good read."


"Her book — a very readable psycho-sociological study — explores how the war and people's reaction to the times set in motion such things as the second wave of the women's movement."


Historical Text Archive

"In her lively, highly readable new book, Thanks for the Memories, Leder details the upheavals, personal and social, that began as the country mobilized to fight. In that upended society, she finds the beginnings of the many rights movements — civil rights, women's liberation and gay rights."


Evanston Review

"Jane Mersky Leder is the author of a terrific book about an overlooked area in history - the sex lives of the greatest generation."


Fayetteville Observer

"Thanks for the Memories is replete with captivating bits of history, wonderful personal stories, and a peek into a generation slipping away fast. It's never dull as Ms. Leder moves you swiftly through history, confidently and engagingly."


TCM Reviews

"Thanks for the Memories is one of those rare books that one can either read quickly or savor slowly. At times it is fun and witty; at other ties it is poignant and thought-provoking."


The Detroit Jewish News

"[W]WII as a time of bawdy sexual experimentation? That might take a little getting used to. Jane Mersky Leder understands our reluctance. Four years ago, as she began to unravel surprising stories about the Greatest Generation, she was reluctant to believe them, too. But the men and women she interviewed, who are dying at a rate of approximately 1,000 a day, encouraged her to tell the more complete story, naughty though it may be….Her book is diligently researched and footnoted, and her sources spoke freely and candidly….At the height of the war, 19 million women were keeping the home front running. And it was that taste of independence - physical and economic - that Leder and many other cultural observers believe set the stage for the women's movement 20 years later. French shores on D-Day into the enthusiastic embrace of waiting mesdammes. French women, he told Leder, go about sex like American women go about knitting."


Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

"Freelance writer and journalist Mersky examines the impact of WWII on relationships between men and women. Focusing on the areas of love, sex, and marriage, she describes how the war's disruption of ordinary home life and the subsequent entry of women into the workforce allowed for a relaxing of the social restrictions that had formerly kept women in check. The personal stories of ordinary people single, married, military, and civilian are interwoven throughout the narrative."


Reference & Research Book News

"Through engaging stories and recollections, Leder paints a vivid picture of the love lives of the members of the Greatest Generation, from the service wives who followed their husbands around the country during their stateside training to the khaki-wackies and Victory girls who gave servicemen a roll in the hay in exchange for a Coca-Cola or movie, to the women, African Americans, and gays and lesbians who defied society to enlist in the military. Always enlightening and never prurient, Thanks for the Memories illuminates an untold chapter in World War II history—a chapter that resonates today in the continual redefining of gender roles and race relations."


America in WWII

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275988791
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/30/2006
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Mersky Leder is a freelance writer and journalist. She is the author of the award-winning book Dead Serious: A Book for Teenagers About Teen Suicide, as well as Brothers & Sisters: How They Shape Our Lives and Grace & Glory: A Century of Women in the Olympics. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Psychology Today, the Chicago Sun-Times, and American Heritage. She lives in Evanston, Illinois.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Prologue: To My Parents-Morris and Shirley Mersky xix

Chapter 1 Derailed Dreams 1

Chapter 2 "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" 15

Chapter 3 "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for Tomorrow We May Die" 31

Chapter 4 Discrimination in the Ranks 51

Chapter 5 An Army of Service Wives 75

Chapter 6 Waiting Wives and Home Front Popular Culture 93

Chapter 7 "Over Sexed, Over Fed, Over Paid, Over There" 115

Chapter 8 "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" 133

Chapter 9 Babies, Suburbia, and the Seeds of Change 155

Selected Bibliography 169

Index 175

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2006

    Great History

    This book is full of captivating bits of history, wonderful personal stories, and a peek into a generation that is disappearing day by day. It is never dull and Jane Mersky Leder moves you quickly through the history with a confident and engaging writing style. Pick this book up and take a look at what you don¿t already know about World War II and the Greatest Generation.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)