The First Strange Place: The Alchemy of Race and Sex in World War II Hawaii

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9780029012222: The First Strange Place: The Alchemy of Race and Sex in World War II Hawaii

For close to a million soldiers, sailors and marines on their way to participate in World War II, Hawaii was, as the forward base and staging area for all Pacific operations, their "first strange place". What they found there was a complex crucible in which radically diverse elements - social, racial and sexual - were mingled and transmuted in the heat and strain of war. Drawing on a reservoir of documents, diaries, memoirs and interviews with men and women who were there, the authors recreate the dense, lush atmosphere of wartime Hawaii in this text. Hawaii was also the first place on another kind of journey - the long and troubled journey toward the new American society that began to emerge in the post-war era. Unlike the largely rigid and static social order of pre-war America, this was to be a highly mobile and volatile society of mixed racial and cultural influences, in which, above all, women and minorities would increasingly demand and receive equal status. In this text, Bailey and Farber show how these changes were tested and explored in the highly-charged environment of wartime Hawaii.

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From Library Journal:

Hawaii during World War II was the "first strange place" for most of the hordes of soldiers and war workers who came from all over the United States. They expected balmy beaches and hula girls but instead found paradise under martial law. Their interaction with one another and with the locals began to blur the lines among classes, races, and genders, presaging the long, slow, and painful progress toward equality in postwar U.S. society. Bailey and Farber (both history, Barnard Coll.) support their argument with previously unpublished diaries, letters, interviews, memoirs, and declassified war documents that vividly depict personal relationships across racial lines, the treatment of nonwhite workers, and other aspects of wartime life in Hawaii. This book is both a fresh look at the social dynamics at work as well as a readable and fascinating volume suitable for most public and academic libraries.
- Katharine L. Kan, Aiea P.L., Hawaii
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this lively, evocative look at men and women who went to Hawaii from the mainland during WW II, Bailey and Farber, history professors at Barnard College in New York City, concentrate on how they sought to bridge the cultural and racial gaps that isolated them from the islanders. Representative malahini (newcomers) discussed here include a shipyard worker, an officer in charge of preparing Marines for the assault on Iwo Jima, an African American soldier who had to deal with a more complicated racism than he had encountered at home, an enterprising prostitute from Chicago and a military policeman assigned to Honolulu's Hotel Street, where the brothels were located. The study is novelistic in its revelation of character and sense of place.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Beth Bailey, David Farber
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