Publication Date: 06/01/2022 ISBN: 9780195342659 Category:


Thomas A. Guglielmo

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publication Date: 06/01/2022 ISBN: 9780195342659 Category:




The first comprehensive narrative of racism in America’s World War II military and the resistance to it.

America’s World War II military was a force of unalloyed good. While saving the world from Nazism, it also managed to unify a famously fractious American people. At least that’s the story many Americans have long told themselves.

Divisions offers a decidedly different view. Prizewinning historian Thomas A. Guglielmo draws together more than a decade of extensive research to tell sweeping yet personal stories of race and the military; of high command and ordinary GIs; and of African Americans, white Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. Guglielmo argues that the military built not one color line, but a complex tangle of them. Taken together, they represented a sprawling structure of white
supremacy. Freedom struggles arose in response, democratizing portions of the wartime military and setting the stage for postwar desegregation and the subsequent civil rights movements. But the costs of the military’s color lines were devastating. They impeded America’s war effort; undermined the nation’s
rhetoric of the Four Freedoms; further naturalized the concept of race; deepened many whites’ investments in white supremacy; and further fractured the American people.

Offering a dramatic narrative of America’s World War II military and of the postwar world it helped to fashion. Guglielmo fundamentally reshapes our understanding of the war and of mid-twentieth-century America.

Publisher Review

Ambitiously conceived, exhaustively researched, and lucidly written, Divisions sheds fresh and often harsh light on the ways that America waged World War II. Thomas Guglielmo's richly granular account of the segregated armed forces that fought the sometimes not-so-'Good War' is a landmark contribution to the history of the war, as well as the vexedly complex history of race relations in modern America. * David M. Kennedy, author of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 * Written in a captivating manner, Divisions tells the story about the multiple, complex, sometimes contradictory color lines the military deployed during World War II. Backed by a wealth of data and sprinkled with delicious, unforgettable details, Divisions deserves scholarly and popular attention. * Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, author of Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States * Thoughtful and nuanced, Divisions supplies a counter perspective to the wistful, largely fictional pop culture invocation of the World War II-era military as a fraternity of the forces for good or a crucible of civic nationalism. Despite the wealth of work on World War II there are not enough books that move beyond vindicationist histories of Black soldiers at war. There are even fewer that place the experiences of Black Americans alongside or in dialogue with those of Japanese Americans and other non-white (or less) white Americans. And there are fewer still that talk about racism and the resistance to it without reifying racial categories. Divisions is compelling, clear, and moving. * Adriane Lentz-Smith, Duke University * Guglielmo's great skill as a historian is his ability to lay out the complexity and nuance involved in the military's recreation of myriad color lines and acts of resistance against them. Important, timely, and masterful, Divisions gives much food for thought not only about the historical antecedents for today's intensifying racial tensions but also about the immense challenges African Americans and other people of color will continue to face in any broad-based campaign for racial justice and equitable citizenship. * David Gutierrez, University of California, San Diego *

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