The Monograph Eating For Victory : Food Rationing And The Politics Of Domesticity
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The monograph Eating for Victory: Food Rationing and the Politics of Domesticity by Amy Bentley focuses on the American mindset of food that changed during World War II, particularly in relation to civilian women. Bentley’s chief reasoning and case is that rationing, the nationwide phenomenon, severely impacted the domestic life of the nation, specifically the American women’s experience and effort during the war, both personally and socially. The author’s key argument is that contrary to common thought, most Americans were able to eat better food than in the earlier years of the Great Depression, in terms of both quality and quantity, and uses multiple types of evidence to illustrate this point. The United States government responded to the chaotic changes that the Second World War created on the home front through the use of propaganda and legal rationing, Bentley maintaining that the Roosevelt administration’s decision to do this was ethical; due to the constraints of this massive undertaking the nation as a whole required a united front that a food crisis could not be allowed to undermine.
The historian Amy Bentley uses an interdisciplinary approach to the subject, through cultural and social methods to suit the gendered focus the author applied to the matter. Since the focus of the author’s argument concerns food and its consumption during World War II, a deeper analysis of the propaganda focused towards women in families is the central emphasis in many chapters in the book. This approach is appropriate in its investigation, as the importance of the media’s affect on civilian behavior was quite significant. Propaganda and its power played an enormous part in World War II and so the approach looking at the information gives ...
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Bentley’s book, while incredibly researched, does not comment upon the negative aspects of domestic wartime policy, or does not consider accurately the negative possibilities rationing could have resulted in. It also only discusses the black-market of food in relation to propaganda, not the realities of it and its usage by all classes. The monograph does not extrapolate on the poverty-stricken or the single-parent families’ response to rationing and its government propaganda, which would doubtlessly be much different from the middle-class stay-at-home mother image the author seems to center the book on. Nevertheless, despite these and other detractions Eating for Victory is a monograph with well-researched information on propaganda and the minutia of domesticity in World War II, and so serves as a useful resource on the home front during this period.