Over Here : How the G. I. Bill Transformed the American Dream

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2006-10-02
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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"The G. I. Bill made homeowners, college graduates, professionals, rocket scientists, and a booming middle class out of a Depression-era generation that never expected such opportunity. Today's America was built on the bill's greatness. The Greatest Generation would not exist without it. Here are the stories of some of these men and women - how their lives changed because of the bill, and how this country changed because of them."--BOOK JACKET.

Author Biography

EDWARD HUMES is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who has contributed to Talk, the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Los Angeles magazine, and others. Humes’s numerous books include School of Dreams and the bestselling Mississippi Mud, Mean Justice, and No Matter How Loud I Shout. A graduate of Hampshire College, he lives in Southern California. 



Table of Contents

PROLOGUE Troop Movement Unlike Any Other 1(3)
CHAPTER 1 The Greatest Regeneration: The Accidental Remaking of America 4(37)
CHAPTER 2 Cold Wars, Hot Rockets, a New American Dream 41(32)
CHAPTER 3 Investing in the Future: Bill Thomas and the Rise of Suburbia 73(34)
CHAPTER 4 Bill and Vivian Kingsley: G.I. Tech 107(28)
CHAPTER 5 Out of the Blue: Medical Miracles 135(19)
CHAPTER 6 Nixon and Kennedy, Bonnie and Clyde: The G.I. Bill and the Arts 154(33)
CHAPTER 7 Gunnery Mates and Other Invisible Veterans: Women and the G.I. Bill that Wasn't 187(28)
CHAPTER 8 Monte Posey's War: Race and the G.I. Bill 215(40)
CHAPTER 9 What's inside? Leaders and the G.I. Bill 255(28)
EPILOGUE Kilroy's Not Here: The Future and the G.I. Bill 283(26)


* 1 *The Greatest Regeneration:The Accidental Remaking of AmericaAlthough he had no idea at the time, Allan Howertons journey to Denver began two years earlier, on January 11, 1944, when two very distinct road maps to postwar America landed on Congresss doorstep.One vision for winning the peace came wrapped in the pomp and ritual of the presidents annual State of the Union address. The other was scrawled by lobbyists a mile from the Capitol, on hotel stationery, then hastily typed up for public consumption.One represented nothing less than President Franklin Delano Roosevelts plan to expand the Founding Fathers original vision of a just America: giving every citizen the right to a rewarding job, a living wage, a decent home, health care, education, and a pension not as opportunities, not as privileges, not as goods to which everyone (who could afford them) had access, but rights, guaranteed to every American, from cradle to grave. He called it a Second Bill of Rights.The other plan, courtesy of the eras most powerful veterans organization, the American Legion, advanced a more modest goal, or so it seemed: to compensate the servicemen of World War II for their lost time and opportunities, offering 16 million veterans a small array of government-subsidized loans, unemployment benefits, and a year of school or technical training for those whose educations had been interrupted by the draft or enlistment. The Legion called this a Bill of Rights for G.I. Joe and Jane.The first plan promised to reinvent America after the war.The second offered to put things back to where they were before the war.As it turned out, neither plans promises would be kept. FDR never got the chance to remake America. Instead, the G.I. Bill did.This was not by grand design, but quite by accident, as much a creation of petty partisans as of political visionaries. Yet the forces set in motion that day in January 1944 would power an unprecedented and far-reaching transformationof education, of cities and a new suburbia, of the social, cultural, and physical geography of America, of science, medicine, and the arts. And just as importantly, the blandly and bureaucratically named Servicemens Readjustment Act of 1944, forever remembered as the G.I. Bill of Rights, would alter both the aspirations and the expectations of all Americans, veterans and nonveterans alike.A nation of renters would become a nation of homeowners. College would be transformed from an elite bastion to a middle-class entitlement. Suburbia would be born amid the clatter of bulldozers and the smell of new asphalt linking it all together. Inner cities would collapse. The Cold War would find its warriorsnot in the trenches or the barracks, but at the laboratory and the wind tunnel and the drafting table. Educations would be made possible for fourteen future Nobel Prize winners, three Supreme Court justices, three presidents, a dozen senators, two dozen Pulitzer Prize winners, 238,000 teachers, 91

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