The War for the American Mind
"If the war didn't happen to kill you," one of George Orwell's characters observed, "it was bound to start you thinking." 1. The remark might have been applied with special accuracy to Americans. Safely distant from the war zone, they had unique opportunities for reflection. In Europe the swift crisis of 1914 had swept both governments and peoples over the brink with scant time for thought about the war's meaning. In the months that followed, the proximity of the fighting had helped to keep men's minds fastened closely on the war's immediate tasks, rather than its ultimate significance. But during more than two and a half years of neutrality, Americans felt no such restraints on their thinking, and they elaborated vigorous and quite various ideas about the war and its meaning for America. Even the submarine attacks that finally provoked the United States to belligerency had a certain remoteness, and did not instantly clear the national mind about America's relation to the European conflict. President Wilson himself had responded deliberately, even haltingly, to the U-boat assaults, first severing diplomatic relations and then arming American merchant ships before at last asking for a declaration of war. The congressional debate on the war resolution had further reflected the persistent confusion____________________
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Over Here: The First World War and American Society. Contributors: David M. Kennedy - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1982. Page number: 45.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.