The Rise of the G.I. Army, 1940–1941: The Forgotten Story of How America Forged a Powerful Army Before Pearl Harbor

Atlantic Monthly. Jul. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9780802147677. $30. HIST
The years leading up to U.S. involvement in World War II included instrumental efforts in preparing military forces for the war. In October 1940, the first men were drafted into military service. Conscription prior to the Pearl Harbor attacks, and the various programs and training operations before and during this period, are the focus of Dickson’s (Sputnik) latest work. During the Depression era, the Civilian Conservation Corps gave purpose to a considerable number of men, many of whom would later serve in the armed forces. The 1941 training maneuvers, in which large infantry and motorized forces squared off against one another in states, such as Tennessee and Louisiana, were vital in the education and preparation of American troops. Dickson notes the lessons learned about soldiers’ levels of fitness and nourishment, morale, logistics, special operations, and even deaths caused by training accidents. Entertainment and the development of G.I. culture are mentioned, as well as a discussion of racial integration following World War II.
VERDICT A gripping study of a topic less explored, this work should appeal to readers interested in pre–World War II preparations and social and cultural aspects of U.S. Army history.
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