World War II and the Postwar Years in America [2 volumes]: A Historical and Cultural Encyclopedia

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More About This Textbook


The two-volume World War II and the Postwar Years in America: A Historical and Cultural Encyclopedia contains over 175 articles describing everyday life on the American home front during World War II and the immediate postwar years. Unlike publications about this period that focus mainly on the big picture of the war and subsequent economic conditions, this encyclopedia drills down to the popular culture of the 1940s, bringing the details of the lives of ordinary men, women, and children alive.

The work covers a broad range of everyday activities throughout the 1940s, including movies, radio programming, music, the birth of commercial television, advertising, art, bestsellers, and other equally intriguing topics. The decade was divided almost evenly between war (1940-1945) and peace (1946-1950), and the articles point up the continuities and differences between these two periods. Filled with evocative photographs, this unique encyclopedia will serve as an excellent resource for those seeking an overview of life in the United States during a decade that helped shape the modern world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"…highly recommended for purchase by all public and academic libraries."


Library Journal

"An excellent resource for highschool, public, and undergraduate libraries."



"An accessible and substantial guide to this often-studied period"


School Library Journal

"W.H. Young and N.K. Young…neatly cover the decade in some 180 alphabetically arranged entries spread over two well illustrated volumes…Highly recommended."



Library Journal
History isn't the only thing that repeats itself; the same can be said of history reference books. Here, two titles examine the major events of the 1940s, detailing the transformation of the United States from World War II to a nuclear superpower. Comparison of article lists reveals surprisingly little overlap. Though this is an oversimplification, Forties may be viewed as the "serious" set, with entries covering the social scene ("Bobby-soxers"), literature ("Literature in the United States"), music ("Andrews Sisters"), law ("Cantwell v. Connecticut"), and many other contemporary topics. Postwar Years is the "silly" set, looking at fads and fashions, movies, comic books, television shows, and all the other ephemeral themes that comprise so-called popular culture. While the former set has more numerous (650) articles of shorter length, the latter has fewer (175) but more comprehensive entries. Each Forties article features fast facts regarding who/what/where, an italicized sentence or two giving the gist of the entry, the article body, and a concluding "Impact" paragraph that explains lasting significance. Longer entries have a "Further Reading" list; regardless of length, all are signed and contain cross-references. Crisp black-and-white photographs, sidebar articles, and 17 appendixes round out the set. (Roughly comparable is the 1940s set from Gale's American Decadesseries, which takes a more narrative approach, though the encyclopedic format of Forties is likely preferable.) Postwar Years similarly presents well-written and interesting material supplemented with black-and-white photographs. An especially appealing feature is a series of tables (103 total) listing Broadway musicals, films, best-selling books, etc., along with pertinent commentary that helps to recall the temper of the times. Rounding out the volumes is a chronology of the decade and an extensive bibliography. BOTTOM LINE These two sets should be seen as a complement to each other—what can't be found in one title may generally be found in the other. Therefore, both are highly recommended for purchase by all public and academic libraries. However, should tight budgets allow only one choice, this reviewer sides with Forties, as its broader scope presents a bigger slice of that decade's pie.—Michael F. Bemis, Washington Cty. Lib., Woodbury, MN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313356520
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/17/2010
  • Pages: 1247
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 2.70 (d)

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