100 Books for America: The Good War

With 76 days until the election, let us continue looking at the 100 books every American should read. These write-ups will be short and not incredibly comprehensive looks at some books and novels that will help you become a better citizen. Check out all of the books that have been picked.

Studs Terkel gathered 131 people who took part in World War II, letting them tell their story for this Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

It’s often said that good journalists zag when others zig. In other words, they find the stories no one else is telling.

The magnificent thing about Terkel’s book is that he zigs and zags. He gives you the stories of grunts and pipefitters, admirals and Japanese Americans sent to internment camps, politicians and scholars.

It’s the most honest and thorough telling of any war in one book I have ever come across.

It’s important that you see the sacrifices made at home and abroad, the valor of some and cowardice of others, our failures and successes.

What I remember of that day is not so much the sense of loss at our two dead but a realisation of how you’ve been conditioned. At that stage we didn’t hate the Germans just for evil the country represented, their militarism, but right down to each individual German. Once the helmet is off you’re looking at a teen-ager

The book is both haunting and illuminating.

The last image that comes to my mind is what we were taught about the Japanese. The Marine Corps taught us that too. That the Japs are lousy, sneaky, treacherous – watch out for them. Well, my God, I mean, who’s brainwashing you on all this? I’ve been married for 24 years to Satsuko – Sats (he indicates his wife who has just entered the room) – Miss America here, that’s a super person. She’s the best thing ever happened to me.


Previously, we looked at a centuries old novel that is timely to our struggles today. Up next, America gets religion.

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