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Title:"Settling Down": Domesticating World War II Veterans' Challenge to the Postwar Consensus
Author(s):Saxe, Robert Francis
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Leff, Mark H.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, United States
Abstract:This study explores the processes that muted dissenting voices of returning World War II male veterans in the immediate postwar years. In open-ended responses to the large American Soldier survey conducted by government sociologists, many veterans anticipated problems of readjustment to a homefront from which they felt alienated. In the immediate postwar years, veterans provided powerful critiques of American society which were at odds with civilian prescriptions that urged veterans to quietly integrate back into civilian life. A need for postwar stability furthered the solidification of a Cold War consensus culture, which returning veterans both supported and rejected. Many soldiers initially resisted the call to re-join civilian society as leaders or heroes, but most veterans did subscribe to some of the postwar consensus assumptions (notably the desire to "settle down" and raise a family) even as they continued to express dissenting opinions. By the 1950s, the critical voices of soldiers that were so prevalent in the immediate postwar era were altered or eliminated by the development of the Cold War consensus culture. In order to understand different aspects of this process, this dissertation examines several case studies, including war hero John F. Kennedy's 1946 race for Congress, the presence of disgruntled veterans in postwar film noir, and the battle over anticommunism in the progressive American Veterans Committee. This study also looks at the activism of African-American veterans in the postwar era to demonstrate that the consensus culture could not silence all veteran dissent. By showing the process of silencing veterans' voices, and trying to gauge how complete this process was, my study offers new insights into the growth of Cold War unity, but it also retrieves lost perspectives that both challenged and supported consensus.
Issue Date:2002
Description:291 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3070046
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2002

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