A conversation with the author, Thomas Guglielmo, PhD, and Marcus Cox, PhD, Non-Resident Fellow, Jenny Craig Institute for the Study of War and Democracy.
America's WWII military was a force of unalloyed good. While saving the world from Nazism, it also managed to unify a famously fractious American people. At least that's the story many Americans have long told themselves.
Divisions offers a decidedly different view. Prizewinning historian Thomas A. Guglielmo draws together more than a decade of extensive research to tell sweeping yet personal stories of race and the military; of high command and ordinary GIs; and of African Americans, white Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. Guglielmo argues that the military built not one color line, but a complex tangle of them. Taken together, they represented a sprawling structure of white supremacy. Freedom struggles arose in response, democratizing portions of the wartime military and setting the stage for postwar desegregation and the subsequent civil rights movements. But the costs of the military's color lines were devastating. They impeded America's war effort, undermined the nation's rhetoric of the Four Freedoms, further naturalized the concept of race, deepened many whites' investments in white supremacy, and further fractured the American people.
Offering a dramatic narrative of America's WWII military and of the postwar world it helped to fashion, Guglielmo fundamentally reshapes our understanding of the war and of mid-twentieth-century America.
If you can't make it in person, you can join us online here.
Thomas Guglielmo is Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of American Studies at George Washington University. He is the author of White on Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1940 (OUP, 2003), which won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award of the Organization of American Historians.
The General Raymond E. Mason, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series on World War II is devoted to the legacy of America’s largest war. Speakers include writers, scholars, distinguished members of the Armed Forces, and journalists.
The lecture series is open to the public through the generosity of the late Major General and Mrs. Raymond E. Mason, Jr. and the Raymond E. Mason Foundation. Mason served in the European Theater of Operations during World War II in the 4th Armored Division of General George S. Patton’s Third Army. Prior to retiring from the military in 1976, he held several high-ranking Pentagon positions, including Assistant Deputy Chief for Operations and Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Logistics.