Assuming its rightful place of honor on the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial is an eloquent and moving tribute to “The Greatest Generation.” Sixteen million Americans served in the armed forces — more than 400,000 gave their lives — and millions supported the war effort from home, all in the name of protecting that which we, as Americans, hold most dear: freedom.
The World War II Memorial, published in conjunction with the dedication of this long-overdue memorial, commemorates the everyday Americans who in countless ways rose up to defeat one of history’s gravest threats to freedom. Veterans — including George H.W. Bush, Sen. Daniel Inouye, former senators Bob Dole and George McGovern, Yogi Berra, and many, many others — contribute their own personal stories while leading historians look at the military campaigns of the war. The memorial’s architect and its sculptor provide insights into how it symbolizes the fortitude and perseverance of a generation, and the exclusive photographs present the memorial through all stages of construction. Fittingly, this historic tribute falls in the 60th anniversary year of D-Day, a time when our nation once again reflects on its greatest sacrifice and greatest victory in the name of freedom.
May 17th, 2004
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“A fine companion to the PBS documentary on the memorial, this coffee-table volume begins and ends with useful histories and discussions of the memorial itself. In between are summaries from Brinkley (Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War, etc.) of land, sea and air campaigns, in Europe and the Pacific; of the home front, including war production and daily life; of women’s roles. Interspersed with the narratives are the personal tales of WWII veterans, including All-Star Pitcher Bob Feller, a battleship sailor; Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier; and a young Annapolis graduate who commanded a submarine at the end of the war, with a parallel tale by his wife. Well-chosen and well-reproduced period photographs are here in generous quantity, even if emphasizing the classics, as are photos of the memorial (by Richard Latoff). The war production of the Ford Motor Company (a sponsor of the volume and the TV special) gets significant space. The foreword by John S.D. Eisenhower states that for the U.S., the “impact of WWII lies chiefly on the effect it had on the Americans who lived through the period, especially those who participated, and the impact it had on American society.” It does not mention the impact of the 405,399 U.S. deaths during the war, also commemorated by the memorial.” — Publishers Weekly
“A tribute to the new war memorial in Washington, D.C., this work brackets a capsule history of America’s role in World War II between descriptions of the monument’s architectural character and its physical construction. The book’s purpose, editor Brinkley indicates, is similar to the monument’s: to induce those without living memory of the war to appreciate the conflict’s enormous effect on America. Thus the memorial itself has an accessible classical design, with arches, columns, bas-relief bronzes, and inscriptions. The book is similarly approachable, with plenty of photographs of the memorial and of the war. The narrative divides the American war (the Allies are largely omitted) into its operational naval, air, and ground components and also covers war production and the influx of women into the factories and the armed forces. An established historian handles each section, which stresses individual experience (enhanced in sidebars by memoirists) and frames it with the strategic course of campaigns and the tactical events of battles. Excellent as commemoration and an able introduction.” — Gilbert Taylor, American Library Association