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World War II and American Racial Politics
Public Opinion, the Presidency, and Civil Rights Advocacy

AUD$124.50 exc GST

  • Date Published: July 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108427630

AUD$ 124.50 exc GST

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About the Authors
  • World War II played an important role in the trajectory of race and American political development, but the War's effects were much more complex than many assume. Steven White offers an extensive analysis of rarely utilized survey data and archival evidence to assess white racial attitudes and the executive branch response to civil rights advocacy. He finds that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the white mass public's racial policy attitudes largely did not liberalize during the war against Nazi Germany. In this context, advocates turned their attention to the possibility of unilateral action by the president, emphasizing a wartime civil rights agenda focused on discrimination in the defense industry and segregation in the military. This book offers a reinterpretation of this critical period in American political development, as well as implications for the theoretical relationship between war and the inclusion of marginalized groups in democratic societies.

    • Offers a reinterpretation of a critical period in American political development
    • Uses a multi-method approach
    • Examines an important case to assess the relationship between war and the inclusion of marginalized groups
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Steven White's remarkable book enriches our scholarly understanding of the relationship between World War II and black civil rights advocacy. White acknowledges the compelling narrative that black activists were able to advance in light of their service, the ways that the executive branch both supported and resisted these narratives, and how white racial attitudes shifted during this period. This book encourages us to see the World War II era as an important but incomplete step toward civil rights, and helps to show the strengths and limitations of arguments for rights based on service.' Julie Novkov, University at Albany, State University of New York

    'Unique among scholars working on this issue, the author is able to draw expertly on both public opinion surveys and archival materials to complicate our understanding of the impact of war on the fight for racial equality. When he concludes that the effects of war 'can be uneven and often surprising, its consequences both compelling and constraining', we should believe him. An impressive book.' Robert Mickey, University of Michigan

    'Total war forces a flawed democracy to live into its ideals - or does it? Carefully interrogating the canonical case of the color line during World War II America, Steven White complicates conventional wisdom with fresh evidence and clear thinking.' Rick Valelly, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108427630
    • length: 216 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 155 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.44kg
    • contains: 14 b/w illus. 10 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. White racial attitudes, 1937–1950
    3. White veterans and racial attitudes, 1946–1961
    4. The Roosevelt Administration and civil rights during the Second World War
    5. The Truman Administration, military service, and postwar civil rights
    6. War, race, and American political development

  • Author

    Steven White, Syracuse University, New York
    Steven White is Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, New York. His research examines race and American political development, particularly the complicated relationship between war and the inclusion of marginalized groups. His research has been published in Studies in American Political Development, American Politics Research, and Social Science Quarterly. He has also written for The Washington Post's Monkey Cage and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

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