World War II as told through the annals of the Associated Press.
Not much in this compendium will come as a surprise to readers familiar with the history of the last great global war, but there are plenty of illuminating behind-the-scenes moments: the fact, for instance, that upon the entry of the U.S. into the war, an AP executive editor went to work as the Roosevelt administration’s director of censorship, hanging a sign the day after Japan’s surrender that read “out of business.” The book demonstrates the openness of the American press, despite that official censorship, in publishing forthright descriptions of battles and their aftermaths: “American combat casualties increased 1,855 during the past week, raising the combined army-navy total to 1,060,727 since the start of the war.” Those numbers are even more meaningful in context. As the text notes, 16 million Americans served in the war and, with them, 1,600 war correspondents. The language of the AP reports is often clinical, sometimes repetitive—e.g., Gen. Henry Arnold’s admission that the air forces lost 60 Flying Fortress bombers and nearly 600 crew members in a single raid on a German industrial city, but that only served to indicate “the importance which the Nazis attached to his ball bearing industry at Schweinfurt.” Students of language will be interested to note that correspondents regularly attached racial epithets to the Japanese but not the German or Italian enemies and that they brought over the term doughboy, widely thought to have been used only in World War I: “There was singing and dancing and music on the banks of the Elbe today as doughboys of Gen. Hodges’ First Army and jubilant troops of Marshal Ivan Konev’s First Ukrainian Army celebrate the historic junction symbolizing the defeat of Nazi Germany.” Many of the photographs, such as Joe Rosenthal’s image of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, are iconic, but refreshingly, there are numerous lesser-known images as well.
A vivid account that has something to please most WWII buffs.
Pub Date: today
Page Count: 224
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020