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by Michael Bess

eBook Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II download ISBN: 0307263657
Author: Michael Bess
Publisher: Knopf; First Edition (stated) edition (November 7, 2006)
Language: English
Pages: 416
ePub: 1734 kb
Fb2: 1383 kb
Rating: 4.5
Other formats: doc azw lrf mobi
Category: Different
Subcategory: Humanities

World War II remains a celebrated event in our collective memory-a time of great high-minded clarity, patriotic .

World War II remains a celebrated event in our collective memory-a time of great high-minded clarity, patriotic sacrifice, and national unity of purpose. It was the quintessential good war, in which the forces of freedom triumphed over the forces of darkness. Now, in his provocative new book, historian Michael Bess explodes the myth that this was a war fought without moral ambiguity. He shows that although it was undeniably a just war-a war of defense against unprovoked aggression-it was a conflict fraught with painful dilemmas, uneasy trade-offs, and unavoidable compromises.

This book tells the story of World War II through the lens of these myriad moral choices, tracing the common threads that run through them, and assessing their enduring impact on the world we have all inherited.

Choices Under Fire book. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Start by marking Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II as Want to Read: Want to Read savin. ant to Read.

World War II was the quintessential good war. It was not, however, a conflict free of moral ambiguity, painful dilemmas, and unavoidable compromises. Was the bombing of civilian populations in Germany and Japan justified?

World War II was the quintessential good war. World War II was the quintessential good war. Was the bombing of civilian populations in Germany and Japan justified?

Choices under Fire is not a comfortable book to read. This is not to say it's a bad read-far from it. The book is beautifully written by author Michael Bess.

Choices under Fire is not a comfortable book to read. Bess is at his most disturbing in discussing the rationale for the use of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was not, however, a conflict free of moral ambiguity, painful .

of Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II (Knopf, 2006), to open our forum with an essay drawn from his book. Sanford Lakoff, Eric Bergerud, Michael Kort, and Harry Stout offer their responses to Choices Under Fire, followed by Bess’s rejoinder. I. n 1994, when the Smithsonian Museum attempted to display the B-29 bomber Enola Gay, one of. ness of our side. They are books that make the reader feel straightforwardly good about being an American, a feeling.

The best World War II books, as recommended by one of the most distinguished . Grossman was the very first person to make the moral equivalence between Nazism and Stalinism

The best World War II books, as recommended by one of the most distinguished historians of the period, Sir Antony Beevor. But World War II continues to be the most important war in history because of the effect that it had on so many people’s lives and on so many countries. Grossman was the very first person to make the moral equivalence between Nazism and Stalinism. It was that which was so devastating.

Moral Dimensions of World War II. By Michael Bess. About Choices Under Fire. It was not, however, a conflict free of moral ambiguity, painful dilemmas, and unavoidable compromises

Moral Dimensions of World War II. Category: World War II Military History Philosophy. Mar 11, 2008 ISBN 9780307275806. Was the bombing of civilian populations in Germany and Japan justified?

World War II remains a celebrated event in our collective memory—a time of great high-minded clarity, patriotic sacrifice, and national unity of purpose. It was the quintessential “good war,” in which the forces of freedom triumphed over the forces of darkness. Now, in his provocative new book, historian Michael Bess explodes the myth that this was a war fought without moral ambiguity. He shows that although it was undeniably a just war—a war of defense against unprovoked aggression—it was a conflict fraught with painful dilemmas, uneasy trade-offs, and unavoidable compromises. With clear-eyed, principled assurance, Bess takes us into the heart of a global contest that was anything but straightforward, and confronts its most difficult questions: Was the bombing of civilian populations in Germany and Japan justified? Were the Nuremberg and Tokyo war crimes trials legally scrupulous? What is the legacy bequeathed to the world by Hiroshima? And what are the long-term ramifications of the Anglo-American alliance with Stalin, a leader whose atrocities rivaled those of Hitler? Viewing the conflict as a composite of countless choices made by governments, communities, and—always of the utmost importance—individuals, Bess untangles the stories of singular moral significance from the mass of World War II data. He examines the factors that led some people to dissent and defy evil while others remained trapped or aloof, caught in the net of large-scale operations they saw as beyond their control. He explains the complex psychological dynamics at work among the men of Reserve Battalion 101, a group of ordinary working-class Germans who swept through the Polish countryside slaughtering Jews, and among the townspeople of the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon, who rescued thousands of Jewish refugees at their own peril. He asks poignant hypothetical questions, such as what would have happened had the Catholic Church taken a hard line against Nazism, placing an imperative on its members to choose between their loyalties. As Bess guides us through the war’s final theater, the politics of memory, he shows how long-simmering controversies still have the power to divide nations more than half a century later. It is here that he argues against the binaries of honor and dishonor, pride and shame, and advocates instead an honest and nuanced reckoning on the part of the world’s nations with the full complexity of their World War II pasts. Forthright and authoritative, this is a rigorous accounting of the war that forever changed our world, a book that takes us to the outer limits of moral reasoning about historical events.
Comments: (7)
Cordanius
Bess is just an amazing writer. The chapter on Midway is riveting. He is knowledgeable and easy to read. I wish I could write like him.
Quellik
Thought-provoking. Good critical thinking beautifully expressed. Would be a good selection for a non-fiction book club.
Innadril
A must read if you are majoring in poly sci or history. You develop a deeper sense of thought by studying decisions that were pivotal in WWII.
YSOP
Private HS for 11th grader for Honor History class.
Modar
I first found this book in the library and thought, well why not. I found myself really enjoying the book. It really put another spin on history and I ended up renewing the book 10 times before the library denied another renewal. So, my other choice was to buy it which I did and I don't regret it
black coffe
Michael Bess explores, in Choices Under Fire, all kinds of moral considerations about Allied conduct in World War II. While he makes it clear that World War II was, indeed, the Good War, fought by the Allies for a good (moral) cause, he points out and explores morally debatable issues. Those include racism on the part of the Allies, contrasted and compared with the racism inherent in National Socialism and wartime Japan.
He goes on to explore the massive civilian deaths caused by Allied firebombing of German and Japanese cities, and, of course, the decision to drop the Atom bomb.
He comes to the predictable conclusion that even if some Allied actions were of questionable morality, they contrast favorably with the horrors of the Holocaust, and Japanese mistreatment of subject peoples, such as took place during the Nanking massacre of 1937.
Bluddefender
In Choices Under Fire, Bess pens essays about the moral issues faced in World War II. You can read these essays independently from each other. Bess discusses racism, the kamikazes, the atomic bomb, bombing civilian populations, the battle of Midway, cooperating with Stalin, the holocaust, and the war crimes trials. None of this material is new; in fact, a lot of the material is familiar to most readers interested in World War II history. What is unique about this book is that Bass explores the moral dimensions of personal, collective and national choices.

Each essay starts with a view that is presented in most American World War II textbooks. Bess adds additional historical information, most of which is known but "forgotten" or rarely associated with the events being discussed. He then links this material to the moral choices made by the main actors in this situation and presents a more nuanced version of that event (for example, Japanese expansion is examined within the context of European imperialism, or the rational to bomb civilian centers, our alliance with Stalin to defeat a dictator like Hitler, and other such decisions).

One may not agree with some of the perspectives presented in this book, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor grew out of Japan's searing experience of helplessness before European and American domination, or that the judgments handed down to the Nazis at Nuremberg represented rough victors' justice, rather than morally clean verdicts. However, one needs to acknowledge that there could be divergent perspectives on the same set of events.

Armchair Interviews says: Very interesting perspective on WWII.
Intellectually and emotionally, "Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II" stimulated me more than any book has for quite a while. The fundamental lesson I took from Michael Bess's book is that the triumphalist view of World War II may have its appeal; yet to complicate that view is even more appealing, on many levels, and is certainly necessary for many reasons. It is not, however, easy or painless to do.

In this case, "to complicate" means to discover two bipolar interests or commitments pulling in opposite directions. One pole represents a nation's urge to make its wars rational and meaningful by post hoc celebration: to tell ourselves that the war was forced upon us but we "fought the good fight"; we sacrificed, and in many ways we surely vindicated and (as Capt. Miller put it in "Saving Private Ryan") earned the fruits of those sacrifices; we can take pride in our valorous accomplishments, and can rest assured that any of our actions that may have tended toward the bestial were few in number, limited in scope and forced upon us by various imperatives; the world is a better place because we went to war.

The other pole is that of expiation: We could have done more to resolve key transnational conflicts other ways instead of going to war, and we may even be implicated as the originator of the war; we sacrificed too much and find no meaning in those sacrifices; however valorous any one or several of our accomplishments may have been, we too often chose to embrace the bestial as we fought; and the world is no better for our efforts and actions.

With respect to the U.S.A. and World War II, avid support may be found for either pole. Rarely, however, will the entire story be captured only by the claims made at one pole or the other, because a nagging "Yes, but..." is almost always woven into the veil of certainty one wears when standing at either pole. Accordingly, it is tougher to find a balance point between the poles than it is to promote one extreme or the other.

What I realized after reading "Choices Under Fire" was that after all that we did or did not do during the war years, we don't get to inhabit that first pole for free. We have to "earn it" by being willing to look at the other pole and discovering what that nagging "Yes, but..." tells us about ourselves. That is, in the end, how World War II continues to shape American identity.