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World War I: Letters from the Homefront

"This attractive series adds a needed dimension to the study of the major wars. Highly Recommended."--The Book Report, March/April 2002

"The Letters from the Homefront series offers an unusual slant on the social history of America at war. Interwoven with explanations of daily life, events, and changes during each conflict are actual letters and other first-person accounts written by Americans during those time periods. The results are a series of personal, verbal snapshots that broaden the landscape of history, making events more vivid and memorable....Illustrated with photos, paintings, and posters, in color where possible, this attractive series will complement more-traditional history books."--Booklist, October 15, 2001

World War I explores life in the United States during the war, as depicted in letters, interviews, speeches, and other first-hand accounts. The anti-German hysteria and the mass deportations of Socialists and suspected sympathizers comes to life through excerpts from Emma Goldman's speeches and letters such as an exchange between Louise Olivereau and her friends. Olivereau, a pacifist who worked for the Industrial Workers of the World, was sent to prison under the Espionage Act. The reasons for the Great Migration become clear with letters to the Chicago Defender from people eager to move north--the farmer dreaming of a good education for his children, teenagers pleading for jobs in Chicago, men and women looking for a better life. Langston Hughes describes his own family's hardships during and after the war. Women's letters are reproduced, detailing their own contributions to the war effort, in the military and in government agencies such as the Children's Bureau. Other letters describe the influenza epidemic of 1918 in New York City and the joyful hysteria of Armistice Day in New York.

An excerpt from World War I:

"The United States emerged from World War I a different country. The lives of hundreds of thousands of men and women had been changed forever. Americans had experienced horrors they would never forget, they had suffered wounds that would not heal, they had lost loved ones. Many who had never been away from home before had traveled to another continent and seen other cultures up close.

"More than half the population of the U.S. now lived in cities, and the number of African Americans in northern cities had greatly increased. Immigration was a trickle of what it had been. Women were envisioning new possibilities in work and in politics, although it would be decades before many of these dreams were realized. For African Americans, the struggle for equality was just beginning."