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Terkel’s The Good War: How The Ww Ii Affected Participants

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Studs Terkel “The Good War” New York; Pantheon Books 1984

E.B. (Sledgehammer) Sledge was a United States Marine and professor at University of Montevallo. Sledge fought in World War II for the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Growing up in Mobile, Alabama Sledge liked to watch birds and went to Georgia Tech where he flunked out to serve in the war. Sledge described two different wars, the war of the man on the frontlines and that of the support personnel. He described the Japanese as relentless. The Japs fought the war by the code of Bushido which was the code of warrior or no surrender. Sledge also mentions that fighting that Japanese made US soldiers savages or having no mercy. Soldiers developed a hatred towards them which caused them to do things they would not normally do. Sledge tells about a time when he would knock the gold teeth out of dead or wounded Japanese Soldiers for fun or collective purposes. When questioned by a medic about why he would do this Sledge thinks it would impress his father. When the medic says he might contract germs Sledge realizes what he did was out of character. He realizes the war has turned him into a savage.Sledge also mentions an old Okinawan woman with a terrible wound was put out of her misery by another soldier. Sledge goes on about other hardships of how the war changed him and others.

Jean Bartlett was a teenage girl during the war. She speaks about a time when she was on her way to a movie with her family and Pearl Harbor was attacked. She grew up in Berkeley, California near many military bases. Her family was not rich but not poor because her father worked long hours at various jobs. At the age of fourteen she began inviting soldiers over for food and to keep them company before they would go overseas. She soon developed relationships with these men by lying about her age. She had many boyfriends during this time and managed sometimes five at a time. She developed a strong ego during this time. Once the war ended the ego Jean developed turned out to ruin her future relationships with men.

Akira Miura was in Japan while the US was bombing the Japanese. Akira is now a professor at the University of Wisconsin. Akira came from a family of scholars. He never fought in the war but many of his relatives and friends fought. He describes how the overall morale of Japan diminished throughout the war. Eventually all high schoolers in Japan were forced to worked in factories to help in the war effort. He tells how the Japanese emperor did not fully admit Japan’s surrender after the Atomic bomb. He also jokes about the US soldiers after the war and how strong they looked.

John Kenneth Galbraith was an economist and former ambassador to India. Galbraith discusses how strategically placed airstrikes controlled much of the war. Most airstrikes were placed at the axis’ power plants and airplane plants. In Hamburg, Germany bombs destroyed the inside of the city but this allowed workers from other professions to add to the German industrial workforce. In 1945 the US placed airstrikes on German farms and plants that produced synthetic fuels. Galbraith also stated that the Atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima did not immediately end the war.

Oral history is very important to society. Oral history allows readers to learn in the perspective of the real people who were living at the time being studied. Oral history also makes a description of an event more interesting because it comes from a person who actually experienced the event rather than an old historian. It can also connect a current generation with a previous generation. For example, a twelve year old girls diary may connect well with a twelve year old girl reading it now. Oral history may also reveal secrets or other unknown details not written in textbooks or other material. Oral history gives the reader a perspective not typically seen in literature today.

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Terkel’s The Good War: How the WW Ii Affected Participants. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from
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