Cover image for The Good War's greatest hits : World War II and American remembering
The Good War's greatest hits : World War II and American remembering
Beidler, Philip D.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Athens : University of Georgia, [1998]

Physical Description:
x, 220 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D744.55 .B45 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The glow of 1945 persists as a kind of beacon for American society, symbolic of an era when good and evil were easily defined. This image is at the centre of Philip D. Beidler's entertaining look at the way World War II reshaped American popular culture. The legend of the ""Good War"" was fostered by wartime propaganda and reinforced in the aftermath of victory through books, the news media, movies, songs and television. Beidler captures the aura of the times as he chronicles the production histories of more than a dozen projects with wartime themes, examining how books and plays evolved into films, how stars were considered and selected, the technical problems and personality conflicts, and the public's reactions. From the upbeat tempo of the musical ""South Pacific"" to the weary disillusionment of ""The Best Years of Our Lives"", from the patriotic nostalgia of ""Life's Picture History of World War II"" to the moral ambiguity of ""From Here to Eternity"", a powerful mythology of the war developed. As a consequence, the line between fact and fiction has blurred for the war generation and its inheritors, and Hollywood's version of the Good War has become enshrined as historical fact in the nation's collective memory.

Author Notes

Philip D. Beidler is a professor of English at the University of Alabama. He has written or edited more than ten books. Beidler served as an armored cavalry platoon leader in Vietnam.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Continuing a project he began in Scriptures for a Generation: What We Were Reading in the 60s (CH, Jun'95) and Re-writing America: Vietnam Authors in Their Generation (CH, Nov'91), Beidler (Univ. of Alabama) excavates the buried structures responsible for the perpetuation of the myth of "The Good War." He recognizes that US involvement in WW II produced a positive feeling that has persisted to the end of the 20th century. This act of remembering manipulates history and leads from fact to history, to drama, to melodrama--with a stop along the way into something called "classic" entertainment. Beidler examines key works to come out of WW II (films and novels), including The Best Years of Our Lives (from Mackinlay Kantor's Glory for Me), Mister Roberts (by Thomas Heggen), South Pacific (based on James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific), The Naked and the Dead (Norman Mailer),From Here to Eternity (James Jones), The Caine Mutiny (Herman Wouk), and Catch-22 (Joseph Heller), detailing the processes of commodification, whereby a work undergoes many permutations in order to reach audiences under different guises, with different effects. In so doing, Beidler reveals how a culture remembers. Superbly written, with full and provocative endnotes, this insightful, uncluttered analysis is highly recommended for all levels. B. Adler; Valdosta State University