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Writing World War II: A Student's Guideby Sylvie Murray
Synopses & Reviews
In this unique new book, two history professors team up to teach you not only how to think like a historian but how to write persuasively like one too.
Intended for anyone being introduced to historical analysis and the basics of clear historical writing, the book examines the process of writing history from two different perspectives. The first is in a series of thoughtful essays from Sylvie Murray on America’s involvement in World War II and how it has subsequently been portrayed. Murray examines three periods—the buildup to war, the war effort on the home front, and the return to peacetime—trying to recapture the mixed emotions of each period and the larger forces shaping public opinion and the notion of citizenship. Her approach challenges traditional themes of “the greatest generation” and “the good war” to show how ordinary Americans responded to the call to arms and why views changed as the war effort progressed. She also examines the central role that propaganda played in mobilizing the public and excising dissent from the history of the war.
The second perspective offers a look into the process of writing itself. At various points in the book, the noted historian Robert Johnston chimes in to critique Murray’s prose, demystifying her analytical techniques while helping readers become more critical readers of all historical writing.
An indispensable tool for high-schoolers, undergraduates, or even amateur enthusiasts, Writing World War II teaches the craft of history writing—by example. In a series of thoughtful essays, Sylvie Murray examines American involvement in World War II and how it has subsequently been portrayed by historians. Murray addresses three broad topics—the prelude to war, the war effort on the home front, and the atypical experiences of soldiers—in an effort to recapture the mixed emotions of the time and the larger forces shaping public opinion. Her work challenges the traditional notions of “the greatest generation” and “the good war,” and explores viewpoints that have been largely ignored in popular retellings. The book serves a dual purpose, critiquing the approaches of various historians while at the same time offering Murrays own writing as a model for constructing a persuasive essay.
But as Murray is rightly critical of one-sided historical arguments, Writing World War II offers another layer of analysis and instruction throughout. At various points in the book, her fellow historian Robert D. Johnston chimes in to assess Murrays prose, demystifying her techniques while helping you to become more critical of all sorts of historical writing—including your own.
About the Author
Sylvie Murray teaches American history at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
Robert Johnston is a professor of history at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
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