"The Good War's Greatest Hits is a fascinating production. It is a book that can make us see the cultural significance of WWII in the way Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory opened our eyes to WWI."
—Joseph T. Cox, author of The Written Wars
"This book is superbly written. It's fast-paced and was a pleasure to read."
—Townsend Ludington, author of Twentieth-Century Odyssey
The glow of 1945 persists as a kind of beacon for American society, symbolic of an era when good and evil were easily defined. This image is at the center of Philip D. Beidler's entertaining look at the way World War II reshaped American popular culture.
The legend of the "Good War" was fostered by wartime propaganda and reinforced in the aftermath of victory through books, the news media, movies, songs, and television. Beidler captures the aura of the times as he chronicles the production histories of more than a dozen projects with wartime themes, examining how books and plays evolved into films, how stars were considered and selected, technical problems and personality conflicts during production, and the public's reactions.
From the upbeat tempo of the musical South Pacific to the weary disillusionment of The Best Years of Our Lives, from the patriotic nostalgia of Life's Picture History of World War II to the moral ambiguity of From Here to Eternity, a powerful mythology of the war developed. As a consequence, the line between fact and fiction has blurred for the war generation and its inheritors, and Hollywood's version of the Good War has become enshrined as historical fact in the nation's collective memory.