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

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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 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.


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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 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.

36 review for America in the Great War: The Rise of the War Welfare State

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael- Berry

    Having read on this subject quite a bit, this historiography does a few unique things. It presents some different information on the government bureaucracies as they related to business, labor, social and intellectual forces in the country during the war. We get a new perspective in that not everything was as compliant with the government's efforts as many have portrayed. Other topics such as justification for entering the war, the CPI efforts and the entire section on the battlefield experience Having read on this subject quite a bit, this historiography does a few unique things. It presents some different information on the government bureaucracies as they related to business, labor, social and intellectual forces in the country during the war. We get a new perspective in that not everything was as compliant with the government's efforts as many have portrayed. Other topics such as justification for entering the war, the CPI efforts and the entire section on the battlefield experience were nothing new. I had to question why the battlefield experiences were even included considering the topic of the book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Staci Taylor

    The war left the United States as a stronger industrial nation, with increased wages, and an improvement in our standing throughout the world. Wilson’s hypocritical administration would not have gained my support during the war due to the racist turmoil in the country and the true winners being huge corporations and capitalist “big business” men. The scare tactics and charges against anyone who professed their “disloyalty” and the dishonesty of propaganda do not impress me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Gives you a different insight into all the political and economically changes going on in American leading up to and through World War One, and not all of it is good for the American image

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nate

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dave

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  9. 4 out of 5

    Zach Casper

  10. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Columbe

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael Malice

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hop

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cody

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jas Lewis

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Thompson

  21. 4 out of 5

    Siddartha

  22. 4 out of 5

    PKN4 GoodReads

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Eaker

  24. 5 out of 5

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    Joshua

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

  28. 4 out of 5

    M Yeazel

  29. 4 out of 5

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  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael Connolly

  31. 4 out of 5

    Glenn

  32. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn Ashley Sorrell

  33. 4 out of 5

    Francesca Marie

  34. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  35. 4 out of 5

    Doug

  36. 5 out of 5

    Alex M

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