The origins of 'Big government' FDR's welfare or warfare?

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University of Chicago associate professor James T. Sparrow's new book 'Warfare State: World War II Americans and the Age of Big Government' is primarily tailored to an academic audience. Readers will be forced to reconsider a standard interpretation of American state development and the consequences of the profound changes ushered in during Franklin Roosevelt's presidency. The war's financing regime aptly illustrates both the scope of change and how Americans came to embrace it. Warfare State is at its best in captivating passages that recount how everyday Americans in factories, on farms, in cities, and manning the front lines perceived the often monumental changes that temporarily upended and permanently altered their daily lives. In addition, Sparrow emphasizes the stark inequality between blacks and whites during the 1940s but underplays the way in which the war aided racial progress. Sparrow's identification of the permanent peacetime draft as an outgrowth of World War II is also overdrawn.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-96
Number of pages5
JournalWorld Affairs
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013


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