Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen

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Oxford University Press, Jul 21, 2008 - History - 352 pages
Based on a rich array of sources that capture the voices of both political leaders and ordinary Americans, Uncle Sam Wants You offers a vivid and provocative new interpretation of American political history, revealing how the tensions of mass mobilization during World War I led to a significant increase in power for the federal government. Christopher Capozzola shows how, when the war began, Americans at first mobilized society by stressing duty, obligation, and responsibility over rights and freedoms. But the heated temper of war quickly unleashed coercion on an unprecedented scale, making wartime America the scene of some of the nation's most serious political violence, including notorious episodes of outright mob violence. To solve this problem, Americans turned over increasing amounts of power to the federal government. In the end, whether they were some of the four million men drafted under the Selective Service Act or the tens of millions of home-front volunteers, Americans of the World War I era created a new American state, and new ways of being American citizens.
 

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This is a book about how World War I transformed the nature of the American state and its relationship to society. Capozzola uses the "I want you" Uncle Sam recruiting poster as a trope to describe ... Read full review

Contents

Uncle Sam Wants You
3
Conscription and Coercion
21
Objecting to the Wartime State
55
Women and Coercive Voluntarism
83
From Vigilance to Vigilantism
117
Rights in a Culture of Obligation
144
Loyalty and the Birth of the Surveillance State
173
Armistice and After
206
Notes
215
Bibliography
281
Index
321
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About the author (2008)

Christopher Capozzola is an Associate Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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