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Committed to Victory: The Kentucky Home Front During World War II

by Richard E. Holl

Availablecloth$45.00s 978-0-8131-6563-9
Availableepub$45.00s 978-0-8131-6564-6
Availableweb pdf$45.00s 978-0-8131-6565-3
Topics in Kentucky History
408 pages  Pubdate: 10/09/2015  6 x 9  41 b&w photos

When World War II broke out in Europe in September 1939, Kentucky was still plagued by the Great Depression. Even though the inevitably of war had become increasingly apparent earlier that year, the citizens of the Commonwealth continued to view foreign affairs as a lesser concern compared to issues such as the lingering economic depression, the approaching planting season, and the upcoming gubernatorial race. It was only the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that destroyed any lingering illusions of peace.

In Committed to Victory: The Kentucky Home Front During World War II, author Richard Holl offers the first comprehensive examination of the Commonwealth’s civilian sector during this pivotal era in the state’s history. National mobilization efforts rapidly created centers of war production and activity in Louisville, Paducah, and Richmond, producing new economic prosperity in the struggling region. The war effort also spurred significant societal changes, including the emergence of female and minority workforces in the state. In the Bluegrass, this trend found its face in Pulaski County native Rose Will Monroe, who was discovered as she assembled B-24 and B-29 bombers and was cast as Rosie the Riveter in films supporting the war effort.

Revealing the struggles and triumphs of civilians during World War II, Holl illuminates the personal costs of the war, the black market for rationed foods and products, and even the inspiration that coach Adolph Rupp and the University of Kentucky basketball team offered to a struggling state. Committed to Victory is a timely and engaging account that fills a significant gap in the literature on a crucial period of American history.

Richard Holl is a professor of history at Hazard Community and Technical College and author of From the Boardroom to the War Room: America’s Corporate Liberals and FDR’s Preparedness Program.

A very informative and interesting look at a fascinating yet frightening era in the history of the state, nation, and world. Holl has produced an interesting, well-written, well-researched, and detailed account of the traumatic years of World War II on the American home front, and most especially in the Bluegrass State. -- Nancy Baird, professor emeritus, special collections library, Western Kentucky University

Well researched, this work places a fresh emphasis on many issues, including the environment, labor relations, and the wartime economy. It is an important study. -- James Klotter, State Historian of Kentucky

Richard Holl’s work is an important addition to the existing literature on the state-level home front during World War II that weaves complex issues into a cohesive story of how Kentucky contributed to the United States war effort. His careful analysis of the economic, political, and social developments that affected Kentucky during the early 1940s adds to our national understanding of how the war affected the lives of people on the home front and how they adjusted to the stress and change of wartime experiences. -- Jerry Sanson, Louisiana State University at Alexandria

Deeply researched and clearly written, Committed to Victory provides a wide-ranging and detailed account of Kentucky’s society, economy, and politics during World War II, one that effectively includes national perspectives and illuminating individual stories.  The book is a valuable addition to the literature on the World War II home front and thus to our understanding of the war’s impact on the United States. -- John W. Jeffries, author of Wartime America: The World War II Home Front

Thoroughly researched and employing a wealth of sources from across the Commonwealth, Committed to Victory offers a comprehensive examination of Kentucky’s World War Two home front. Offering an impressive array of economic and demographic detail, as well as personal stories, this work charts the remarkable effects of the war on Kentucky. Arising from the devastation of the Great Depression, the WWII home front offered new opportunities for all Kentuckians regardless of race or gender. Committed to Victory, however, also recognizes that not every development was purely positive. Consensus was not automatic. Despite the demands for labor that allowed for the economic advancement of blacks and women, for example, they both felt the strains of gender and racial discrimination. Price controls, rationing, and wages levels caused their share of conflicts. Further, while the state may have experienced “politics as usual,” many Kentuckians—both as families and as individuals—felt the strains of global conflict. Fortunately, however, Kentucky’s home front mobilization contributed significantly to the country’s success in World War II. In the end, given its balance, its inclusiveness, and its comprehensiveness, this work makes a tremendous contribution to Kentucky’s twentieth century story. -- Thomas Kiffmeyer, Associate Professor of History, Morehead State University

Committed to Victory places readers alongside ordinary Kentuckians, allowing them to see the impact the war had not only on Kentucky, but on the lives of ordinary citizens of the Commonwealth. -- Broadway World

[...] Richard Holl offers the first comprehensive examination of the Commonwealth's civilian sector during this pivotal era in the state's history.
[...] Holl illuminates the personal costs of the war
Committed to Victory is a timely and engaging account that fills a significant gap in literature on a crucial period of American history -- Bob Edmonds -- McCormick Messenger

[. . .] Revealing the struggles and triumphs of civilians during World War II, Holl illuminates the personal costs of the war, the black market for rationed foods and products and even the inspiration that Coach Adolph Rupp and the University of Kentucky basketball team offered to a struggling state. -- Kentucky Alumni

Richard E. Holl has achieved an academic and storytelling milestone in his new book [. . . .] His scholarship and sources are broad and in-depth for his purpose of exploring Kentucky’s landscape, people, and wartime activity. [. . .] Holl has produced a judicious balance of discussing each section of the State of Kentucky, rural and urban [. . . .] This will stand as the best source on the Kentucky home front during World War II for many years.
[. . .] There is much to praise in this book [. . . .] -- Ohio Valley History

[. . .] [A] well-researched, well-written chronicle of domestic life in WWII Kentucky.

[. . .] This book is another excellent piece of Kentucky history. -- Kentucky Libraries