Why We Fight: Selling a War to America

My iBook Why We Fight: WWII and the Art of Public Persuasion free at iBookstore

Designed as multi-touch student text, it focuses on the American response to WWII – especially the very active role played by government in shaping American behavior and attitudes. “Why We Fight” gives students a chance to step back to the 1940s and experience the perspective of Americans responding to the Pearl Harbor attack and WWII. Americans were hungry for information, and Washington responded with a PR blitz to sell the war to the American public.

It features 13 videos including rarely-seen cartoons like “Herr Meets Hare” (1945) starring Bugs Bunny, government films “What To Do in a Gas Attack” (1943) and Hollywood wartime flicks like the “Spy Smasher” cliff hanger series (1942).

View naval deck logs detailing the attack on Pearl Harbor. Listen to FDR’s “Day of Infamy” speech while you read his handwritten notes on the first draft of the speech. Listen to man-in-the-street interviews recorded the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. Swipe through an interactive timeline map detailing early Axis victories of the war. Use an interactive guide to interpret over 40 wartime posters.

All of the historic content is in the public domain. And the iBook provides access to the digital content, so users can remix the historic documents into their own galleries and projects.  Students can use an iPad-friendly historic document guide to analyze all the source material and share their observations with peers and teachers. “Why We Fight” is filled with “stop and think” prompts keyed to Common Core State Standards and includes a student guide to learning from historic documents and links to a teacher’s guide to related activities and free iPad apps.

This first of a series, “Why We Fight,” focuses on why Americans went to war and how the government defined the reasons for war and the nature of our enemies. Students build critical thinking skills as they are guided through the documents in consideration of three questions:

  • Why did Americans go to war?
  • Was Washington’s public relations blitz crafted to inform the public or manipulate? Did it appeal to reason or emotions? Did it rely on facts or stereotypes?
  • How do the themes in this book apply to your life and America today?

The next iBook in my Homefront USA series will consider how Americans were asked to change their lives, work harder and sacrifice in support of the war effort. Additional iBooks will look at how the war brought dramatic changes to American society – contrasting the growing opportunities for women with the internment of Japanese Americans.

Image credits:
Title: Enemy ears are listening.
Artist: Ralph ligan
United States. Office of War Information. Graphics Division.
Washington, D. C
Date: 1942
UNT Digital Library.

Title: Avenge December 7
Artist: Bernard Perlin
Publisher: Washington, D.C. : U.S. G.P.O. Office of War Information,
Date: 1942.
Northwestern University Library

2 Replies to “Why We Fight: Selling a War to America”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.