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Entangling Alliances

Entangling Alliances: Foreign War Brides and American Soldiers in the Twentieth Century

Susan Zeiger
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Entangling Alliances
    Book Description:

    Throughout the twentieth century, American male soldiers returned home from wars with foreign-born wives in tow, often from allied but at times from enemy nations, resulting in a new, official category of immigrant: the allied war bride. These brides began to appear en masse after World War I, peaked after World War II, and persisted through the Korean and Vietnam Wars. GIs also met and married former enemy women under conditions of postwar occupation, although at times the US government banned such unions.In this comprehensive, complex history of war brides in 20th-century American history, Susan Zeiger uses relationships between American male soldiers and foreign women as a lens to view larger issues of sexuality, race, and gender in United States foreign relations. Entangling Alliances draws on a rich array of sources to trace how war and postwar anxieties about power and national identity have long been projected onto war brides, and how these anxieties translate into public policies, particularly immigration.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-9748-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    In the fall of 2007,Newsweekfeatured a cover story on marriages between Iraqi citizens and American military personnel that had taken place in the years since the U.S. invasion. The article appeared at a time, opinion polls showed, that American support for the war had reached a new low; calls for a full troop withdrawal were mounting, and the war would soon become a major factor in the presidential campaign.¹ But for the foreseeable future, Americans were “married to Iraq” whether they liked it or not, the title thatNewsweek’seditors had given their story. For the cover they...

  5. 1 “Cupid in the AEF” U.S. Soldiers and Women abroad in World War I
    (pp. 11-38)

    “American or French Girls, which is best?” The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) edition of theChicago Tribuneposed this question to its doughboy readership in November 1918, soon after the armistice. As it turned out, American soldiers had strong and varied opinions on the subject, and their responses filled the “letters” column for weeks. Many rose to the defense of American womanhood, praising the home front sweethearts they soon hoped to see. Others, like this anonymous American officer, cast a strong vote for the French: “If the American girl is jealous of the French girl today, she has good reason...

  6. 2 “The Worst Kind of Women” Foreign War Brides in 1920s America
    (pp. 39-70)

    The arrival of more than 5,000 European war brides in U.S. ports by the early 1920s generated both interest and controversy. Katherine Hardwick, a field representative for the American Red Cross in Boston, was one of the first Americans to meet the newcomers. Delighted by the seven French wives she initially welcomed, Hardwick expressed optimism about the prospects for soldiers’ foreign-born brides and for their new country: “We feel that girls like these, strong, honest, and young, with all their fascinating little manners, their charming courtesy and considerations, are real assets for America.” Elizabeth Hutchin, another Red Cross worker, was...

  7. 3 GIs and Girls around the Globe The Geopolitics of Sex and Marriage in World War II
    (pp. 71-126)

    “You’ve wondered what they look like—the girls our soldiers meet overseas. Here’s the answer, from Iceland blondes to sun-kissed Samoans.” In 1943 a U.S. popular magazine published a globe-trotting guide for curious Americans. The article introduced an array of international playmates in cheesecake photos, from Ireland’s winsome sweater girl Muriel Lahey, to sultry Iranian “lovely” Bahereh Sabet, to Australia’s leggy Pat Julie, posed on a beach blanket. Thumbnail sketches described the girls to be found, and dated, in a dozen theaters of this global war, with specific advice on how to approach each type—whether bowling or tennis, cinema...

  8. 4 “Good Mothers” GI Brides after World War II
    (pp. 127-162)

    Writing inReader’s Digestjust weeks after the atomic bombing of Japan had ended World War II and begun a new era of intense insecurity in global relations, journalist George Kent sounded a hopeful note as he considered America’s future role on the international stage. Kent’s theme was war brides: the thousands upon thousands of foreign-born wives that GIs were expected to bring home to the United States. Although “a few complaints about these marriages have come from parents and from American girls,” he said, “anyone interested in international good will favors them enthusiastically.” Kent elaborated his vision of person-to-person...

  9. 5 Interracialism, Pluralism, and Civil Rights War Bride Marriage in the 1940s and 1950s
    (pp. 163-202)

    In 1947, an African American army sergeant serving in the postwar occupation of Germany typed a letter to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then U.S. Army chief of staff. “Knowing you as a General, and a Soldier, Sir,” he wrote to expose “a great injustice . . . being directed towards me.” Just weeks before, Sergeant Robert Bennett, an army medic, had filed the requisite paperwork to marry Elfrieda, his German girlfriend and mother of their infant son, Duane. The couple had been dating for two full years and were now certain that they belonged together. Almost immediately after applying, Bennett...

  10. 6 The Demise of the War Bride Korea, Vietnam, and Beyond
    (pp. 203-236)

    During the month of April 1975, the U.S. embassy in Saigon had become a “chaotic madhouse.” The crushing North Vietnamese Army (NVA) advance, which had toppled provinces “like an avalanche,” now threatened the city, creating desperation and panic among those allied with the South Vietnamese government and the multitude of Vietnamese who had worked for and with the Americans. By six o’clock each morning an enormous crowd had gathered outside the embassy doors. U.S. Marines were assigned to keep the crowd in order.¹ Among those importuning for transport out of the country that April were several thousand Vietnamese war brides...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 237-282)
  12. Index
    (pp. 283-298)
  13. About the Author
    (pp. 299-299)