Ronald Schaffer's America In The Great War Essay

Ronald Schaffer's America In The Great War Essay

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Ronald Schaffer's America In The Great War

     Ronald Schaffer’s America in the Great War gives new insights into World War I.

The book gave historical accounts about the war that other books negated to included.

The thesis that Schaffer tries to prove that the Great War was the start of the American

welfare state and the beginning of “big” government. America in the Great War was

structured in chronological order of the war, from America’s mobilization to the actual

fighting. What the book did not include is a detail account of the fighting. This was the

biggest draw back in a otherwise well thought book.

     The book begins with the mobilization of the United State’s industry and man

power. The first two chapters dealt with how the Federal Government shaped the view of

the war in America’s minds. The methods that the Federal Government used varied from

propaganda to coercion. The point behind the Federal Government’s involvement in

propaganda was to rally the country to fight the war. The first step in shaping the

people’s mind was to get the labor and industry to work together. The Federal

Government established committees and teams to persuade the minds of the United States.

One of these committees were the Committee on Public Information established in April

13 1917 by order on the President of the United States. The committee was led by

George Creel, former social reformer. He had great power in what the United States saw

and heard for the next few years. His first order was to manage American minds without

directly using propaganda and censorship. Other nations fighting the war practiced wide

spread censorship of all war related material. Creel realized that this would not work in

the United States, instead he flooded Americans with news. The news released to the

public was in such large numbers and in such great detail that Americans could not

understand all of it. The Committee on Public Information also produced films. The films

were designed to rally Americans behind the war effort. The films were nothing else but

propaganda, but Creel designed the films to not come across as propaganda. The

committee was very successful in hiding the fact that they were engaging in propaganda.

Many Americans believed in the films and supported the war e...

... middle of paper ...

...overnment helped veterans in such a large scale. The treatment of the shell

shock veterans would eventually lead to one of the largest welfare programs, the Veterans


     In addition Schaffer changed my views about the American home front. I was not

aware about the extent of propaganda involved shaping the thinking in the United States.

I did not know that the Federal Government suppressed dissent to the level that it

employed. Such use of propaganda and suppression in the United States would be

impossible and such a government using that would be called a Fascist government.

     In conclusion, I liked the book due the fact that Schaffer proved his thesis, the

Great War gave rise to the American welfare state. I believe that Schaffer proved his

thesis with clear and concrete evidence. I enjoyed how Schaffer shed new light on the

Great War. Many historical accounts only deal with the actual fighting and not the behind

the scenes action that Schaffer writes about. Schaffer’s account about women and blacks

during the war gave new levels. History has forgotten the contributions that these groups

gave to the war.

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