Myth of WWII Essay

This essay has a total of 1031 words and 5 pages.

myth of WWII




The Myth of World War II
Michael C. C. Adams’ book, The Best War Ever: America and World War II, attempts to dispel
the numerous misconceptions of the Second World War. As the title suggests, Americans
came out of the war with a positive view of the preceding five turbulent years. This myth
was born from several factors. Due to the overseas setting of both theaters of the war,
intense government propaganda, Hollywood’s glamorization, and widespread economic
prosperity, Americans were largely sheltered form the brutal truth of World War II.

Even to this day, the generation of World War II is viewed as being superior in morality
and unity. The popular illusion held that “there were no ethnic or gender problems,
families were happy and united, and children worked hard in school and read a great number
of books.” (115) It was a golden era when all Americans set aside their differences and
united for a common cause which everyone put above all other priorities. The United
States Army was thought of as more advanced in fighting ability, weapons, and supposedly
held to a higher standard of ethics on the front. Americans that did die, died in “an
antiseptic, clean, neat way . . . gloriously.” (100) Soldiers weren’t blown apart into
pieces, they died honorably and nobly.

Many factors had to be in place for such a distorted myth to come about. The central one
being that the entire war was fought on foreign land with the exception of the bombing of
Pearl Harbor. With the conflicts on the other sides of the oceans, Americans would not
witness the brutality, destruction, and suffering of civilians and soldiers alike. “Only
the United States was not both a destroyer and a victim of the destruction in the war.”
(73) The civilians of the United States, therefore, relied on other sources to shape
their view of World War II. “Ads implied that if you bought a war bond your sacrifice was
on par with that of the man in the front lines.” (74) The US government and industry
played on Americans’ sense of patriotism in order to get them to support the war or buy
their products. However, “it [advertising] is by nature emotional, rather than
intellectual; it sells feelings rather than ideas.” (73) Government propaganda and
business advertising were not the only factors in forming the inaccurate myth of the
Second World War. Hollywood made films where “people get blown up with their clothes and
fall gracefully to the ground.” (100) Through the realism of motion pictures, Americans
were falsely led to believe in “glorified war.” (100) The other major factor in allowing
the war to be dubbed as “the best war ever” was the economic prosperity. “The U.S. gross
national product increased 60 percent during the war.” (114) Such contrast to the
depression years of the 1930’s further implied this was a golden era.

The reality under the cover of myth was repulsive. “. . . the coast was littered with
shattered boats, tanks, trucks, rations, packs, buttocks, thighs, torsos, hands, heads.”
(101) Americans never witnessed the carnage. To add insult to injury, when soldiers on
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