Edited by Peter N. Carroll, Michael Nash, and Melvin Small
New York University Press
Written with passion and intelligence, the letters of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in World War II express the raw idealism of anti-fascist soldiers who experienced the war in boot camps, cockpits, and foxholes, but never lost sight of the great global issues at stake.
When the United States entered World War II on December 7, 1941, only one group of American soldiers had already confronted the fascist enemy on the battlefield: the U.S. veterans of the Lincoln Brigade, a volunteer army of about 2,800 men and women who had enlisted to defend the Spanish Republic from military rebels during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). They fought on the losing side.
After Pearl Harbor, Lincoln Brigade veterans enthusiastically joined the U.S. Army, welcoming this second chance to fight against fascism. However, the Lincoln recruits soon encountered suspicious military leaders who questioned their patriotism and denied them promotions and overseas assignments, foreshadowing the political persecution of the postwar Red Scare. African American veterans who fought in fully integrated units in Spain, faced second-class treatment in America's Jim Crow army. Nevertheless, the Lincolns served with distinction in every theater of the war and won a disproportionate number of medals for courage, dedication, and sacrifice.
The 154 letters in this volume, selected from thousands held in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives at NYU's Tamiment Library, provide a new and unique perspective on aspects of World War II.
"This terrifying, remarkable work examines the attitudes, perceptions, and behavior of U.S. fighting men in the Pacific theater during World War II. Imaginatively drawing on letters, diaries, memoirs, military reports, and contemporary psychological assessments, Schrijvers reveals the social, historical, and emotional roots of the peculiarly frenzied and merciless war...this temperate study of murderous fury is among the most unsettling books I've read in years."-The Atlantic Monthly
"One of the most remarkable books I have ever come across. A significant and fascinating contribution to the field. The Crash of Ruin should appeal to a large audience of readers interested in World War II history."-Edward M. Coffman, author of The War to End All Wars: The American Military Experience in World War I
"The Crash of Ruin offers the reader both intellectual and emotional rewards. . . . Its narrative power makes it a wonderful read." -Susan M. Hartmann, The Ohio State University
About the Editors:
Peter N. Carroll is Chair of the Board of Governors of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. He is the author or editor of fifteen books, including The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade: Americans in the Spanish Civil War.
Michael Nash is the director of New York University's Tamiment Library, a special collection documenting the history of labor and radical politics that administers the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives.
Melvin Small is Distinguished Professor of History at Wayne State University and chair of the university's Abraham Lincoln Brigade Scholarship Fund. His most recent book is At the Water's Edge: American Politics and the Vietnam War.