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The Best War Ever: America and World War II

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  293 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Was it really such a "good war"? It was if popular memory is to be trusted. We knew who the enemy was. We knew what we were fighting for. The war was good for the economy. It was liberating for women. It was a war of tanks and airplanes - a cleaner war than World War I. Americans were united. Soldiers were proud. It was a time of prosperity, sound morality, and power. But ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 1st 1993 by Johns Hopkins University Press
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Kyle  Federo
May 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book is full of factual errors, false analogies, and specious arguments. I can't believe the book was even published, never mind assigned by history teachers in schools. My fear is that not only the young students, but even today's history teachers don't know enough about world war two to spot the glaring errors in this book. I don't mind someone writing a book that attempts to highlight the mistakes made by our country in world war two. There were plenty of them. However the author ignores ...more
Rachel
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Adams' book is geared toward dismantling the myth of World War II that was generated during the end of the 20th century--especially exemplified in the writings of Stephen Ambrose and journalism of Tom Brokaw. The idea of this myth is that the generation that lived through World War II was the greatest generation and that WWII was a just war in which Americans saved the day--alone and virtuously. Each of Adams' chapters takes a common portion of this myth and breaks it down from the causes of the ...more
Michael Burnam-Fink
Jan 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, 2011
If you look for 'revisionist history' in the dictionary, you'll probably find this book. Adams goes at great length to penetrate the mystique of WW2, showing it as an ugly conflict where the average soldier lived in total terror, not knowing what he fought for, that made only half-hearted steps towards integrating American society, and helped destroy the social fabric of rural America. All of this may be true, and it serves as a nice counter-balance to the usual hagiographies, but as a whole thi ...more
William  Shep
Jan 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
Should be titled 'The Worst Book Ever.' This is an extreme politically correct polemic masquerading as a history of America and World War II.
Sharon Van Meter
A decent overview of World War II that provides some interesting facts concerning activity on the home front during the war as well as the dissection of myth making about the war (Chapter 7 is an excellent example of this).
This book however suffers from wavering between an academic and narrative writing style. It makes several broad generalizations and statements, and at times dives into very detailed, grotesque, and depictions of war that last for several pages and drag the pace of the book. So
...more
B.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, non-fiction
I was prepared to dislike this book because of the romanticized title ("best" war ever?) even though there is a picture of a soldier on the front who, while managing a smile, has haunted eyes.

Within the first page or two, I realized that the book was using this title ironically, and that its mission was to poke holes in the fairytales and myths of World War II. The author does this by providing first-hand accounts of those who lived it and by giving statistics and other information that helps cl
...more
Simon Purdue
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Adams’ book stands out as one of the first major attempts to dispel the idea that World War II was a glorious and pristine war- one in which the boundaries of ‘good and evil’ were clear and in which the American soldier fought gallantly and perfectly for freedom and democracy. Contrasting the images of Vietnam as a ‘bad war’ with the ‘good war’ narrative of WWII, Adams argues that the national mythmaking project was ultimately successful in glossing over the more negative aspects of life on the ...more
Greg Jenkins
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Now one of my favorite books on WWII, specifically America's involvement and what people and politics felt and believed in the 30's and 40's. Adams does well to inform the reader about the myth that the U.S. was joined together behind a common cause, when it indeed was not the case. Today people are generally unaware of the divisions America was split into because of race, and gender. I hear many time people referring to this time as the greatest generation and Adams doesn't hesitate to remind u ...more
a-aj-zkf
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
Modern view on WW2. Discusses how it is remembered fondly whilst it was actually quite rough. Talks about its effects on society, how corporations took over in the post-war booms, how wars like Iraq were started because people remembered WW2 as being well and fair.
Brianna
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
This was a great book. I loved it's blatant honesty.
Mark Mears
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Adams brings a different view of the second world war, and gives voice to many of the individuals who did not have a voice before. Worth the read.
Ben
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I understand the desire to puncture the inflated romanticism around World War II and the phony "Greatest Generation" notions preached by Ambrose et al, but I am not sure this book quite accomplishes that goal. It feels hasty, perhaps rushed out in response to Band of Brothers, which was published a year before. More than anything though, the problem is that Adams really only answers the question of how the reality of WW2 differs from our image -- not what the ramifications of this might be, and ...more
Candice
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book exercised my history muscles I haven't used for awhile. It got easier through practice. This is a revisionist history of the war. It debunks overly positive myths and attitudes about it and its repercussions. There are some pretty painful things to read in here-- a lot of damage to soldiers, and to American society.
Zeb Kantrowitz
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Warts, and All the Warts, of WW2 and its’ effect on Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. The best way for me to summarize this books it to paraphrase from the ‘Afterwords’ where Adams hypothesizes “four fundamental convictions that undergird The Best War Ever:

One: WWII was a complex event that had multiple causes and courses. It cannot be reduced to pat value statements such as force must always meet international aggression. Nor did the US alone, save the world at Normandy.

Two: The Alli
...more
Michael- Berry
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
Although it makes some good points about the history of World War II and how it is selectively remembered, this is a shoddy piece of historical writing. He includes extensive statistical facts and makes major assertions to support his arguments with no references. If I tried to write something like this in my graduate studies, I would probably not get a passing grade based on basic standards of historical/academic writing. The only citations are direct quotes and few to none are from primary sou ...more
Piker7977
Michael C.C. Adams does a fine job of describing the pitfalls of perpetuating good war histories and narratives. Adams's study culminates into a criticism that contemporary foreign policy is often shaped by citing examples of American prominence during the Second World War. Using World War II as examples of American exceptionalism often omits crucial aspects of historical context such as the uglier side of conflict. There are other arguments in this book such as those involving race relations, g ...more
Jeff
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book does an excellent job of showing how common perception of WWII is not always accurate. However, as this is the aim of the author, the book lacks balance, as this would run against the aim of the author. The result is he is about as accurate as the history which he challenges. Still a good book to broaden your perspective.
Patrick
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
How does a war become "The Good War?" Where does a "Greatest Generation" come from? They need to be invented. There are some issues with this volume, but Adams' sins are far more forgivable than most historians of The Second World War. A penetrating book on how a war became good, and how our culture has come to accept that.
James
Oct 19, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: History buffs
This book does some expose of WWII and compares it to other wars. Its interesting how WWII we see as pretty Black and White compared to the wars we have been involved in sense. This book shatters those illusions and underlines that war is pretty much the same, whenever fought.
Cheryl Greer Blanton
Nov 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
World War II, a time of victory gardens, Rosie the Riveter and patriotism. In this book, Michael C.C. Adams exposes the other side of this era which was fraught with protests and descent. This book will change the way you think of this period in our history
Maren
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interesting theme on the difference between collective memory and history.
Marc
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
A great book for dispelling the myth and hype of the "greatest generation;" not to disvalue their service, but to take an accurate look at the country and culture of the WWII era.
Justin
Jan 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Read it and get in a fight with your grandpa, or a Republican.
Timothy Boyd
Jan 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Nice in depth look at the myths we have created about WWII. interesting read. Recommended
Richard Trattner
rated it it was amazing
May 04, 2018
Rachel
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Dec 04, 2017
Alyssa
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Nov 21, 2011
sequoia  Wheeler
rated it it was ok
Dec 25, 2013
Annie Morphew
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Feb 02, 2019
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