World War II Blog

Darkening Days
What did the war look like to Americans in 1939? What were they thinking as they watched the spreading conflict in Europe and Asia grow ever closer to the U.S.?

Nearly a half-million books have been written about World War II, but they view the events in hindsight. Few histories give a sense of what Americans were experiencing in those uncertain times. With the outcome unknown, the war years were filled with doubts, challenges, fears, and hopes.

Wanting to recover the world they knew, I am starting this weekly blog coinciding with the war’s 75th anniversary. My goal will be to give a personal, real-time account of events, drawing on articles from each week’s issue as they appeared at the time in The Saturday Evening Post. By adding illustrations, advertising, and the occasional cartoon, I hope to give fresh insights into the challenges, and achievements, those Americans knew.


Bombing America

In a time when suicide bombers were unthinkable, a young journalist analyzed America’s chances of being attacked.... More

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The Year of Two Thanksgivings

With all the concerns about Christmas — or at least Christmas shopping — intruding on Thanksgiving, maybe it’s time to keep Thanksgiving in its traditional... More

How to Be Neutral

A Post journalist wishes America could follow the Swiss model, but it probably never would have worked.... More

Sullivan, Indiana in 1939
Everyday Life in 1939

European war dominated national front-page headlines in 1939. But on the local front, a vanishing murderer, duck hunting season, and menacing grass fires trumped war-torn... More

Student Peace Strike at the University of California at Berkeley
A Bad Choice for Spokesman

Milton Mayer, whose outspoken editorials would spur contention for the Post, was one of many students who believed the U.S. should stay out of Europe.... More

The Suspect Americans

An off-color and offhanded remark about Japanese immigrants from a World War I veteran foreshadowed the internment of thousands of U.S. citizens.... More

American Battle Fleet
He Saw the War Coming

A science fiction writer lays out a suspiciously accurate plan of how the Navy would fight Japan two years before the Attack on Pearl Harbor.... More

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Jewish Pawns

Why the U.S. turned down 20,000 immigrant children and how a senseless prejudice became a political tool in the hands of Japan and Italy in... More

“Hitlerites From the Country Districts of Bavaria”
Those Wacky Nazis

Bavarians, bicycles, and beer. The real reasons Hitler and the National Socialist Movement weren’t scaring anyone.... More

Imperial Japanese Army in Manchuria, 1931
Japan’s Bigger Game

With one-sixth the population of China, did Japan really think it could conquer 450 million people and control over 4 million square miles? ... More

Women consider magazines
No War Here

When I’m interviewed as the Post’s archives director, I often find myself addressing the misconception that the magazine was a newsmagazine. Actually, it was more... More

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