Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Home Front with Martin Sheen: American Voices During World War II (audiobook)

genre: non-fiction, history

This book was designed as an audiobook, using first hand accounts and oral histories of Americans as they recall their experiences during World War II as they relate to "home" - America.  It was set up into distinct chapters, almost like mini podcasts, about different topics.  I really enjoyed the ones about the social and economic changes that came to our country as a result of the war.  Beyond that, there was definitely a lot I didn't know. I know there was a, vague in my mind, "isolationist movement" but I didn't really understand why or how slowly things changed.  I didn't understand the baggage here from World War I. 

One very disturbing piece, well, two really, was the way that women and, especially, African Americans were treated here both before, during and after the war. It is shameful and painful to learn about. I forced myself to stay attentive and listen to the voices of actual soldiers as they talked about literally being ready to die, some nearly doing so, for a country that refused to let them sit on the same seat on a bus as a white man.  Putting their life and honor on the line for a country that refused to give them a loan to buy a home or give them a decent wage-paying job.  I hate it.  I hated listening to the voices of people who spewed that racist filth.  But I made myself because we need to know, all Americans, what people fought and are still fighting against.   Our aggression against the Japanese, too, both here at home and during the war was interesting to learn about - I get it, most of it anyway, but at the same time, it's complicated, isn't it?   I have read before about the Japanese internment and it's another one of those really uncomfortable, painful things to listen to.  We fought in Europe for ideals that we completely disregarded at home.  That's the ugly truth.

I know so much about the war and how things shook down in Europe that I think it was important for me to put all of that in the context of my own people who stayed here, trying to survive at home where there were shortages and a terrible, terrible fear of invasion. 

I'm glad I listened to this.  Plus, it did help that I got to listen to Martin Sheen, whose voices is so familiar and presidential that I loved my minutes with this audiobook even more.

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