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Detroit And The "Good War"

Detroit And The "Good War": The World War II Letters of Mayor Edward Jeffries and Friends

Dominic J. Capeci Editor
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Detroit And The "Good War"
    Book Description:

    Edward J. Jeffries Jr., was elected mayor of Detroit in 1937 and for a decade led the city through a period of race riots, union turmoil, and unprecedented growth. Jeffries's circle of friends was made up primarily of newspaper reporters who shared his interests and lifestyle. Devoted to family, they nevertheless worked long hours, smoked heavily, drank moderately, and gambled often in their running card games of gin and poker.

    After Pearl Harbor, Jeffries watched his closest friends, most twelve to fourteen years his junior, enlist in the armed forces. Voracious letter writers, over the next four years they shared with one another their innermost hopes and fears. They told stories about Gen. George S. Patton, the surrender of Japan, of commanding African American soldiers during the Normandy invasion, and the battles on the home front in the heart of Detroit, the "Arsenal of Democracy."

    These letters present a candid portrait of the intellectual and political leadership of Detroit -- and America. These men were confident in their values, aware of their responsibilities, and logical in their actions as they helped forge the weapons that turned back the fascist threat to democracy. Their letters also reveal a level and kind of male camaraderie seemingly lost in the depersonalized, technocratic society of the postwar era. As such, this work provides a more complete understanding of how Americans reacted to -- and were changed by -- the "Good War."

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5913-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Lists of Abbreviations and Names
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    (pp. 1-42)

    Written during the “Good War” by close friends who shared a love for the city in which they worked and played, these letters reveal much about personal relationships in an era of dynamic change. They provide insights into the operation of city government and, equally, the city pride that first drew these politicos and newsmen together in the late 1930s. They also indicate the enormous socioeconomic impact of World War II on Detroit as it shifted from a depressed automobile-producing center to the Arsenal of Democracy accountable for fully 70 percent of Michigan’s and 35 percent of the nation’s war...

    (pp. 43-92)

    Just as those left behind thirsted for information about their loved ones in uniform, soldiers themselves craved news of the home front.¹ In addition to word of their families from parents, wives, and children, they relied on close friends for tidbits on the latest developments in their former workplaces. Indeed, Martin S. Hayden urged Councilman George C. Edwards to “unloose with the gossip.” Quickly, however, he looked to Mayor Edward J. Jeffries Jr. for insider material on who was “in or coming out of the dog house” and what feuds were surfacing in and about city hall.²

    In part, the...

    (pp. 93-160)

    Throughout the first seven months of 1944, Jeffries and the boys in the movement commented on numerous issues that would become, in mayoral words, “very interesting history.”¹ Indeed, Walton S. White, Harold J. Schachern, and George C. Edwards wrote of their experiences in southern training camps; friends of Edwards, as well as John M.Carlisle and especially Martin S. Hayden, recounted the reality of war both in the Pacific and in Europe where the tide of battle was shifting in favor of the Allies. Their insights into military life covered far-ranging issues and personal emotions associated with their transformation from civilians...

  8. 3 The Crucible (July – December 1944)
    (pp. 161-218)

    More than during any other period of the war, the second half of 1944 proved to be a time of testing for Jeffries, his friends, and their families. Correspondence amid problems of delivery and censorship revealed deep love, yet occasionally touched raw nerves and threatened longtime relationships, such as that of Jeffries and John M. Carlisle. Other friends expressed interest in the national scene, particularly the presidential election, and the local home front, where Jeffries juggled what seemed irreconcilable issues of race and labor with more hopeful plans for municipal revenue and postwar Detroit. Still, he kept in contact with...

  9. 4 Meliora Resurget Cineribus (February 1945–January 1946)
    (pp. 219-304)

    Entering the final year of war, Detroiters at home and abroad managed to maintain regular contact with one another, despite the ongoing wartime inconveniences of censorship and mail delivery. Jeffries continued as the center of correspondence, dispensing updates on contemporary problems and future plans, which culminated that fall with his election to a fourth term as the mayor of Detroit. Meanwhile, he reinforced his friendships with those who moved in and out of the fronts. John M. Carlisle reported on the war in the Pacific, his second battlefield assignment in two years and one from which he returned in October,...

    (pp. 305-308)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 309-322)