This historical account of an American movement of far-right women is an attempt to pay historical attention to an often overlooked chapter in American history. The author succeeds in showing the larger social setting of far-right American politics prior to and during World War II, as well as giving a fuller context of the movements of dissent during the liberal era of Roosevelt. The impact of such figures as Father Charles Coughlin and Henry Ford also comes into view through the lens of the Mothers' Movement. The story of the movement leaders' prosecution for sedition in 1944 is particularly interesting, pointing out how little we hear of war dissent in most histories of the "Good War."
From Library Journal
The mother's movement in opposition to U.S. policies and participation in World War II was not a single, unified movement, according to Jeansonne (history, Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) but a "decentralized confederation of some fifty to one hundred groups," with overall membership estimates ranging from five to ten million. The leaders of the various groups were neither mainstream conservatives nor feminists but fanatic radicals whose common denominator was anticommunism animated by intense bigotry and racism. Jeansonne devotes chapters to Elizabeth Dilling, Catherine Curtis, Lyrl Clark Van Hyning, Agnes Water, and many others. At first reading, the degree of bigotry and hate espoused by these women seems, from a 1990s moderate or liberal perspective, ridiculous almost to the point of comedic. However, their ability to command and influence an audience then, and the endurance to this day of similar bigotry in contemporary far-right radicalism, make Jeansonne's book sobering and important indeed. Extensively documented, it is useful not only as a narrative history of women and an expose of bigotry but also as a stimulus for further research. A worthwhile addition for most academic libraries.
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Linda V. Carlisle, Southern Illinois Univ., Edwardsville
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.