Published Date

February 23, 2002

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series

From Constructing a Postwar World: Background and Context

In the end, the value of the pamphlet series is not in the actual effect it had, but in what it tells us about the times in which it was produced. The series was an abject failure in terms of the goals of those who initiated it—the evidence suggests that the pamphlets’ role in ameliorating social discontent was never accepted by those further down the chain of command, and they were never implemented on the local level with that goal in mind.73

However, as a mirror on their times, the pamphlets illuminate a number of features in the war years that seem to have been lost in the historiography of the period. The notion that servicemen would pose a significant social problem in the postwar world seems largely unexplored in the current literature, which tends to treat postwar planning as either a foreign policy issue (in terms of constructing a postwar international order) or an economic issue (in terms of the supply of available jobs). At another level, the pamphlets highlight many of the cultural presuppositions that were taken for granted at the time. They provide useful evidence of efforts to envision a postwar world even as the military conflict was taking place, and offer some fresh evidence of the cultural representations of women and minorities at the time. They also highlight the early formation of a white-collar ideal and technological hubris that we tend to associate with the postwar world. As such, they open an interesting line of analysis about when the cultural forms of “the fifties” can be said to have started, and provide a suggestive opening to further inquiry into the culture of the period and the military’s role in shaping it.




Primary Sources


Archival Materials

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  1. Crawford, “Visit to Ninth Service Command Regarding Voluntary Off-Duty Discussion Program,” 3, 5–7, 9, 13–14, 19, 23–24. []
Robert B. Townsend
Robert B. Townsend

American Academy of Arts & Sciences