Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Review: Doing Our Part: American Women on the Home Front During World War II by Susan Sinnott

Synopsis: During World War II, the rigid lines between men's and women's work were challenged. While men were away at war, women were asked to help their country by taking jobs that were once considered male occupations. (from the online description)

Review: This is a sharp, intelligent book that discusses how American women meet the challenges of being at home during World War II. With fifteen million American men overseas and the vast industrial giant of America charging headlong into the production of planes, ships, jeeps, ammunition, and other requires war supplies. Women, who had only before been relegated to teaching and shop-clerk, suddenly found themselves welding, riveting, accounting, using metal pattern machines and manufacturing ammunition.
Sinnott highlights the obstacles women faced. Women who had never before managed money, held their own bank accounts, written their own checks, where suddenly managing the finances for their households. Working 8-10 hour shifts, they also were expected to maintain pristine homes and supply home cooked meals, forged from coupon rationing and limited supplies They need to care for children, knit socks for soldiers, buy bonds, work in factories – and look pretty while doing it. It was exhausting work, but it also introduced women to a wider world, a world of freedom and independence and gave them self-confidence. Nothing would ever be the same.
Sinnott’s prose is interspersed with pictures of women working, advertisements, celebrities, and other historical pictures. The pictures help bring the prose to life. Sinnott’s writing is clear and accessible, but has a bitter tinge to it. She clearly feels that the women were treated poorly, that the impossible was expected of them, and they received only disrespect and mockery when it was over.

This is an excellent book on this subject but I would advise to include discussion on the subject with young readers. It is important to temper Sinnott’s bitterness with understanding and to explain why and how these things were, how they have changed, and how they have not. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-531-20198-8
Year Published: 1995
Date Finished: 12-26-2016
Pages: 63

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