Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I

by Ann Bausum

This fascinating account of the political and social climate in the United States... read more

This fascinating account of the political and social climate in the United States during World War I looks at how intense nationalism and patriotism resulted in growing intolerance and infringement on citizens’ civil rights. Through propaganda and policy, the government suppressed individuals and groups who sought to protest U.S. involvement in the war (such as suffragists who picketed the White House) and growing infringements on civil rights in the name of national security (socialist Eugene Debs ended up in prison for speaking out against the Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917). Public intolerance focused largely on German immigrants, German Americans, and the German language. The fear and paranoia resulted in a sweeping change to the cultural landscape across a country in which communities and neighborhoods largely defined by German immigrant roots felt the need to Americanize their identities. Author Ann Bausum’s insightful look at the often deeply disturbing course of events on the home front during World War I concludes with relevant comparisons to events during other wars in U.S. history, including the current conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan, and leaves plenty of room for astute readers to draw many additional parallels and comparisons. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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