Books about life on the American WWII homefront.
September 3, 2011 4:45 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for books about what life was like on the American homefront during World War 2.

I recently read "The Circus Fire" by Stewart O'Nan about the Hartford Circus Fire back in 1944 and while the story it self was quite compelling there were a few bits of information presented in the book that touched on aspects of life in the US during the war that I had no idea bout: ie. anti-aircraft batteries on the outskirts of downtown and that the major department stores had mass causality plans in place including the use of their delivery trucks as ambulances or to transport the dead in the event of an air raid. (Both of which makes sense given that the area around Hartford was a big aircraft manufacturing center)

any book recommendations would be great...I would prefer non-fiction but well researched fiction would do as well.
posted by Captain_Science to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
This is going to sound silly, but...the Molly series of the American Girl books. I read them when I was a little kid (as they are written for little kids), but I read them along with my grandma (who was in her early 20s during WWII). She was really impressed by how well the stories captured the feeling of a kid back at home. There were five books back in the day, but now it looks like they've made more. I can't vouch for books 6+.

So, if you're man/woman enough to sit down for a few hours and knock out some easy reading, I think you'll enjoy it. Alternatively, if you've got a kid you'd like to be able to talk WWII with, having them read Molly is a great place to start.
posted by phunniemee at 4:56 PM on September 3, 2011

Best answer: Our Mothers' War by Emily Yellin; Eating for Victory: Food Rationing and the Politics of Domesticity by Amy Bentley.
posted by mynameisluka at 5:00 PM on September 3, 2011

Best answer: Doris Kearns Goodwin's No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II (which won a Pulitzer Prize in history).
posted by kirkaracha at 5:15 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dan Wakefield's Under the Apple Tree.

Leonora Weber's Meet the Malone's and one of the chapters of Patrick Dennis' Auntie Mame deal with British evacuees who have come to the states.

Two of Elizabeth Enright's Melendy books were set in that time.

Charlotte Herman's The Difference of Ari Stein...he has an assimilated aunt who insists on calling him Lionel.

Alan and Naomi

Becky's Horse.....
posted by brujita at 5:24 PM on September 3, 2011

Response by poster: Just a little over an hour in and already some great recommendations. Thanks!
posted by Captain_Science at 6:14 PM on September 3, 2011

Marge Peircy's Gone To Soldiers
posted by cyndigo at 7:24 PM on September 3, 2011

I mainly have a lot of children's books to recommend.
Why: the War years by Tomie DePaola about being a kid in the U.S.
Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright (one of the Melendy books, U.S.)
Guests of War trilogy by Kit Pearson (children being evacuated from the U.K. to Canada and their years in Canada)
Journey to Topaz (sequel is Journey Home) by Yoshiko Uchida (families being interned in the U.S.)
The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages (child's view of the atom bomb project)
From Anna by Jean Little (sequel is Listen for the Singing) (German family moving to Canada)
Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (while nominally part of a series, is fine as a stand-alone, is about Canada from a teenager's perspective)
Oh, and the Molly books may be a little too young, but they have a lot of info both packed into the story and in detailed endnotes.

And if you'd like to read more on the Japanese-American Internment, The No-No Boys is a classic. Not a children's book.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:27 PM on September 3, 2011

(Thanks for the GGS recommendation, Margalo!)

I recommend Studs Terkel's THE GOOD WAR, which does have a homefront chapter.
posted by sdn at 9:58 PM on September 3, 2011

It's a YA book, but I loved Molly Donnelly, by Jean Thesman. I graduated to it pretty much straight from the Molly books, and found it that much more complex. (The Molly books -- appropriate to their reading audience! -- don't touch on a lot of things like Japanese internment, women working outside the home, etc.)
posted by kalimac at 2:07 AM on September 4, 2011

Rilla of Ingleside is set during the first World War.
posted by brujita at 5:48 AM on September 4, 2011

Whoops, sorry about Rilla. Wrong war.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:41 AM on September 4, 2011

Previously, although my question was broader -- there are a lot of great recommendations, but some won't qualify for you.
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:37 AM on September 5, 2011

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