America in the Great War: The Rise of the War Welfare State

TitleAmerica in the Great War: The Rise of the War Welfare State
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1991
AuthorsSchaffer, Ronald
Number of Pages244
PublisherOxford University Press
CityNew York

This book argues that the First World War wrought a dramatic revolution in America, wrenching a diverse, unregulated, nineteenth-century society into the modern age. Ranging from the Oval Office to corporate boardroom, from the farmyard to the battlefield, this book details a nation reshaped by the demands of total war. The author shows how the Wilson administration used persuasion, manipulation, direct control, and the cooperation of private industries and organizations to mobilize a freewheeling, individualist country. The result was a war-welfare state, imposing the federal government on almost every aspect of American life. He describes how it spread propaganda, enforced censorship, and stifled dissent. Political radicals, religious pacifists, German-Americans, even average people who voiced honest doubts about the war suffered arrest and imprisonment. The author also details the efforts of scholars, scientists, workers, women, African-Americans, and of social, medical, and moral reformers, to use the war to advance their own agendas even as they contributed to the drive for victory. Some of the upheavals the author describes were fleeting--as seen in the thousands of women who had to leave their wartime jobs when the boys came home--but others meant permanent change and set precedents for such future programs as the New Deal. By showing how American life would never be the same again after the Armistice, this volume lays a new foundation for understanding both the First World War and twentieth-century America.

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