The book I have chosen to review for Dr. xx’s global journalism class is From the Battlefront to the Bridal Suite. I will divide this essay into 4 parts: I will discuss what this book is about, how the book relates to our class, what I learned from reading it, and whether or not I would recommend it to someone else.
To begin, the book From the Battlefront to the Bridal Suite focuses on the women of Britain who met, married, and moved to America with the American soldiers who were stationed in Britain when the United States entered World War II and came to Britain to train in 1942. The main sections of this book cover who the war brides were, the changing opinions of morality, and the ways the different types of media portrayed the women, in newspapers and magazines. The book includes many letters and firsthand accounts written by the war brides themselves, which were not often seen during this time because no one wanted to listen to the women of this time. It talks about how the media influenced women to leave the home, something that was very frowned upon during this time period, and work in factories to help the war effort, but stressed that this would be a temporary job, because when the men returned from the war, the women would have to give up their new freedoms and return to domestic life at home.
There is a lot more to this story than what appears by reading about the setting of this book, which is during World War II The book takes a deep look into who these women were, why they made the decision to marry these soldiers, and how their actions affected the war, and even the world in general. To answer who these women were, the book looks at Britain in the 1940’s and the way these women lived their lives. These women were aged from around 18 and 19 to mid-20s and because they were so young and most of the men their age were fighting in other countries, the American men who came to Britain during this time. Britain entered the war at the start, these women where left alone from 1939 to 1942, when the American men arrived. They also had had to endure terrible hardships, such as the constant threat of bombing, strict food rations, and being vigilant at all times. Then, in ’42, thousands of American men entered the country and were sent to programs where women hosted these men and held dances and parades, and were invited into these women’s homes. The British women found the American soldiers dashing and brave, and the soldiers liked the attention. The makes often points out that these women are not to be seen as harlots who were looking to lure American men into marriage, but women who were put in an extreme situation and found comfort and love where they could.
There were many reasons that these women would have chosen to marry an American soldier. They were scared and lonely, and there was much mystery and allure surrounding American men at the time. Many British people had never seen an American before. These women had a lot of effect on the war. Even before the men came, these women where working in factories making bombs and equipment and growing food. They had to adjust to life outside the home. This meant that they were discovering new freedoms that hadn’t been available to them before the war. This also includes new sexual freedoms and a discovery of who they could be outside of the home. However, the media painted these women as being sexually depraved and looking for a quick ticket to America. The women of this time had to deal with a lot being said about them, but no one actually asking them why they made their decisions or what they thought of the situation. New questions of morality arose, and the media tried to keep the women in check by shaming them into behaving or outlining ways that they could improve themselves.
The military decided that the soldiers weren’t allowed to marry the British women, so instead the women were only wanted for sex. Because of this, cases of venereal diseases rose, and the military blamed this solely on the women, even though it was just as much the soldiers fault. This caused the media to call the women ‘loose women of low morals, who only wanted to get money from GIs.’ Yet, when the military got rid its ban on the marriages and the soldiers were marrying the women, the media coverage changed from condemning the women to treating them with respect calling them ‘loyal excellent mothers-to-be.’
From the Battlefront to the Bridal Suite relates to our Global Journalism class because a large portion of it talks about the media’s role in influencing the public’s opinion of these women. They first portrayed them as immoral women who were just trying to leave Britain for America by ensnaring men in marriage. Then, once the women were married, the media didn’t want to offend the families, and now portrayed them as being loyal and helpful to the war effort. In addition, the media in America did a lot to assuage the fears of the American women who were afraid that the British women were going to take all the marriageable men away from them. Magazines wrote articles explaining that they had nothing to worry about and should treat the British women coming into the county with kindness and hospitality. The media at this point took on both well-meaning and destructive roles because it was trying to control the world’s fears about the war and what the world would be like after it ended. It was responsible for keeping morale high and morals above reproach. I think that it is important to look at how media has evolved and compare it with the media practices of today, because people who control the media need to learn from past mistakes, or even learn what was effective in the past. As students studying journalism, we should be able to look at the media’s past and point out what to do and what not to do.
Before reading From the Battlefront to the Bridal Suite I had no idea that so many American soldiers brought back foreign women, especially British women to marry. In all of the time I studied and learned about World War II in high school and college, none of the books or articles talked about war brides, and only rarely talked about women’s role in the war. I always knew that women moved to factories, and this began the changing of women’s roles, but this usually focused on American women. While reading this book, I learned a lot about the role of women in the media, and how the newspapers and magazines could change their opinions so quickly, to suite the changing of the public’s views. I think that what I took away from this book is the idea that the media has a huge influence on public opinion, especially during times of war, and that this can be both good and bad, because it caused women to be put down and condemned for taking advantage of their new freedoms, but it also was helpful with influencing people’s perceptions of women.
I enjoyed reading From the Battlefront to the Bridal Suite because I learned many new piece of information that I hadn’t thought to explore before. The book’s writing style kept my interest and wasn’t boring. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about women’s roles in World War II. Unfortunately, it is not as popular a subject as other aspects of the war, and women’s roles during this time period are often overlooked. This book does a good job of giving the read the woman’s perspective and explaining why they made their choices. I enjoyed reading the first-hand accounts of the women who were war brides, and their experiences on the ships taking them across the Atlantic to America. Their letters were very insightful, and I got to understand how they felt about the way the media was showing them.
To conclude, From the Battlefront to the Bridal Suite explained who the war brides who came to America during World War II were and how their actions effected the world. It explained why they made the decision to marry American soldiers and looked at how the media portrayed them to the public. I learned a lot from this book that I had never thought about before, so I would strongly recommend it to people who are looking to learn about women during World War II and the part that the media played during this time. This book is a good choice of reading material for anyone in our global journalism class as well, because it relates with what we discuss in class every day.
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