In This Review

The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two

The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two
By Studs Terkel
589 pp, Pantheon, 1984

This book sustains Studs Terkel's reputation as the nation's foremost practitioner of the difficult (although seemingly simple) art of oral history. No one succeeds as he does in drawing eloquent memories from his subjects and arranging them so as to bring out deeper meanings about society as a whole. The "good war" theme of this book, voiced by so many of his witnesses, is an explicit counterpoint to the "hard times" recalled in Terkel's classic oral history of the Depression. Many of the witnesses, however, recall their somber thoughts in 1945 about the atomic bomb and future relations with the Soviet Union. Let us hope this is a forecast of a coming oral history of the cold war, thus completing a trilogy on the three momentous national experiences of this century.