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To Hear Only Thunder Again America's World War II Veterans Come Home
978-0-7391-0243-5 • Hardback
April 2001 • $102.00 • (£65.00)
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978-0-7391-0244-2 • Paperback
April 2001 • $37.99 • (£22.95)
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Pages: 288
Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
By Van Mark D. Ells
Series: Studies in Modern American History
 
History | Military / World War II
Lexington Books
The paucity of scholarly literature on World War II veteran readjustment might lead one to believe these nearly sixteen million men and women simply took off their uniforms after the War and reintegrated into society with ease. Mark D. Van Ells path-breaking work is the first serious analysis of the immense effort that was required to avoid the potential social decay so often associated with veteran reintegration. To Hear Only Thunder Again explores the topical issues of educational, health, employment, housing, medical, and personal readjustment faced by veterans while continuously situating these issues against the backdrop of society's political response. Never before, or since, had Americans taken such a keen interest in veterans' affairs. While post-World War II America was spared the problem of veteran unemployment and while veterans were not associated with crime and political disorder—as had often been the case after World War I—the package of readjustment benefits devised that allowed for such a smooth transition was extremely expensive. Veterans of later wars never received as much assistance and consequently experienced more difficulty returning to civilian life. Van Ells' work ensures that these lessons of the Second World War are not entirely lost. To Hear Only Thunder Again provides an unprecedented exploration of a period largely neglected by military historians.
Mark D. Van Ells is Assistant Professor of History at Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York.
Chapter 1 Introduction: The "Veteran Problem" in History
Chapter 2 "The Art We Must Perfect": Government Planning for World War II Veterans
Chapter 3 "I Think I Was a Little Futsed Up": Personal Readjustments
Chapter 4 "Everyone Will Come Out of Here Wounded or Sick": Medical Readjustments
Chapter 5 "My Mind Was Like Virgin Soil": Educational Readjustments
Chapter 6 "I Still Had a Little of the Depression in Me": Economic Readjustments
Chapter 7 "A Safe, Quiet, and Peaceful Place": Housing Readjustments
Chapter 8 Conclusion
At last we have a book that deals systematically with the experiences of WWII veterans as they returned home from war! Mark Van Ells's well-researched and clearly written To Hear Only Thunder Again is an impressive and long-overdue book on a subject of enormous importance. After surviving years of danger overseas, readjusting to civilian life was for these men and their families the last battle of the Second World War, and in Mark Van Ells's book that often traumatic experience has at last been addressed in masterful fashion. An important addition to the vast literature on the Second World War.
Thomas Childers, University of Pennsylvania


This is an excellent book that surveys a number of topics concerning the integration of returning World War II veterans into American society.
History Teacher


Mark Van Ells's well-written and equally well-researched book is among the best on veterans in American history. No other book I know of looks so carefully at all three relevant levels: veterans' benefits as a national legislative and administrative issue; the actual implementation of programs at the state and local level (using Wisconsin as a case study); and the personal experiences of veterans (relying on both personal interviews and memoirs). It sets the standard for what one can only hope will be equally thorough and imaginative treatments of the veterans in more recent American wars.
William Pencak, Pennsylvania State University


 
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