WHILE YOU WERE GONE: A Report on Wartime Life in the United States by Jack -- Ed. Goodman
Kirkus Star

WHILE YOU WERE GONE: A Report on Wartime Life in the United States

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The potential market for this book is much greater than that indicated by the title -- the veteran who wants to bring himself abreast of what has happened in his absence. As proved by the success of such books as Allen's Only Yesterday people like to read about things half remembered in the form of a sort of analyzed recall. Not everyone will want to read all of this fascinating symposium:- How We Thought and Behaved; How We Were Governed; Our Jobs and How We Did Them; What We Saw, Read and Heard; How We Prepared for Tomorrow -- much are the main subheads. And under them authorities such as Donald Nelson, writing on industry, Russell Lord, on agriculture, Carey McWilliams on racial minorities, Dan Parker on sports, Norman Corwin on radio, Wolcott Gibbs on theatre, and many others give an effective panorama of what happened. I found Thomas Stokes particularly interesting in writing of Congress; Allan Nevins on how we felt about the war. Anna Wolf on the younger people. I could have wished Joseph Bell had been more constructively critical in his chapter on postwar world planning, and R. J. Thomas somewhat more aggressive in discussion of labor. McWilliams -- conspicuously -- painted no rose colored picture. Many of the others -- while very good reading -- put best foot foremost, through processes of omission rather than commission, perhaps. Outstanding, for its inspirational quality, is Jonathan Daniels chapter on Franklin D. Roosevelt, which will of course find a dissenting voice in anti-New Deal ranks. There is some humor --though there could well have been more (even Thurber goes a trifle solemn at times). But all in all, this should prove heartening and clarifying to the veterans who, almost without exception, confess to a sense of confusion about what happened over here. A challenge to all -- as citizens -- to be more aware of the fats that lies in their hands, is a vital aspect of the book. And a useful appendix -- How Your Congressman Voted -- should help bridge some political and social gaps to which most citizens are only too liable.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster