Soldiers to Citizens: The G.I. Bill and the Making of the Greatest Generation

Paperback | March 13, 2008

bySuzanne Mettler

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The G.I. Bill fueled not only the development of the middle class: it also revitalized American democracy. Americans who came of age during World War II joined fraternal groups and neighborhood and community organizations and took part in politics at rates that made the postwar era thetwentieth century's civic "golden age." Drawing on extensive interviews and surveys with hundreds of members of the "greatest generation," Suzanne Mettler finds that by treating veterans as first-class citizens and in granting advanced education, the Bill inspired them to become the activeparticipants thanks to whom memberships in civic organizations soared and levels of political activity peaked. Mettler probes how this landmark law produced such a civic renaissance. Most fundamentally, she discovers, it communicated to veterans that government was for and about people like them,and they responded in turn. In our current age of rising inequality and declining civic engagement, Soldiers to Citizens offers critical lessons about how public programs can make a difference.

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The G.I. Bill fueled not only the development of the middle class: it also revitalized American democracy. Americans who came of age during World War II joined fraternal groups and neighborhood and community organizations and took part in politics at rates that made the postwar era thetwentieth century's civic "golden age." Drawing on ...

Suzanne Mettler is Alumni Associate Professor of Political Science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, at Syracuse University. She is the author of the prize-winning Dividing Citizens.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 5.71 × 8.82 × 0.91 inPublished:March 13, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195331303

ISBN - 13:9780195331301

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"Suzanne Mettler has written a magnificent book, showing how the GI Bill enabled soldiers returning from World War II to become fully participating citizens in American democracy. Not only did the GI Bill open access to education; it delivered benefits in a dignified way and demonstrated thatgovernment could make a positive difference in the lives of individuals and the nation. The experiences--and many individual voices--of the World War II generation come through loud and clear in this book. Scholars and students will gain a fresh perspective on the effects of public policy on citizenparticipation. And general readers will see what government at its best can do to spread opportunity and enrich citizenship in America."--Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, and Director of the Center for American Political Studies, Harvard University, and authorof Diminished Democracy: From Membership to Management in American Civic Life