There are countless books detailing the history of World War II, but none has examined the differences among soldiers's experiences based on their service branch's culture. Based on extensive oral history interviews with the men and women who served during this war, G. Kurt Piehler has discovered that the U.S. Navy tended to be hierarchical, especially on large ships; and in contrast, the Army Air Force remained a relatively loose organization, with more frequent fraternization among officers and enlisted personnel. Although racial tensions were not absent from the Marines, the elite ethos of this branch mitigated the harsh racism of many white Marines toward their African American comrades. In the Army, there was no one representative soldier's experience in the war, given the sheer size and diversity of the Army's missions in this conflict, including sharp differences between the Asian and European war experiences.
Piehler draws heavily on the oral histories he conducted for the Rutgers Oral History Archives of World War II and the Center for the Study of War and Society to provide a rich and varied look at the experiences of the men and women of World War II, in their own words.
The book also includes a timeline to put dates and events in better perspective; a comprehensive, topically arranged bibliography; and a thorough index.