America's armed forces played a critical part in the defeat of Hitler's Germany and made by far the biggest contribution to the Allied defeat of Japan. In the US, military veterans of World War II are widely revered as the foremost representatives of 'the greatest generation', a generation that vanquished fascism in Europe and the Far East, faced down the threat of communism during the Cold War, and achieved unprecedented levels of prosperity and social mobility in their own society. Elsewhere, America's service men and women are often remembered more ambivalently for their material abundance, their hedonism, and even their rapacity.
God and Uncle Sam shows that both perspectives are problematic: America's armed forces were the products of one of the most diverse and dynamic religious cultures in the western world and were the largest ever to be raised by a professedly religious society. Despite constitutional constraints, a pre-war 'religious depression', and the myriad pitfalls of war, religion played a crucial role in helping more than sixteen million uniformed Americans through the ordeal of World War II, a fact that had profound and far-reaching implications for the religious development of post-war America. This timely and authoritative book draws on meticulous research in US archives and is informed by contemporary films, photographs, posters, and sound recordings.
MICHAEL SNAPE is Michael Ramsey Professor of Anglican Studies at Durham University.
Publisher: Boydell Press