The Good War

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"The Good War": An Oral History of World War II
First edition
AuthorStuds Terkel
CountryUnited States
GenreMilitary History
PublisherPantheon Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (Paperback)
940.54/1273/0922 B 19
LC ClassD811.A2 G58 1984

"The Good War": An Oral History of World War II (1984) is an oral history of World War II compiled by Studs Terkel. The work received the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.

"The Good War" consists of a series of interviews with various men and women from across the globe who directly experienced the events leading up to, including, and following the Second World War.


The book's chapters and subchapters, with the names and topics of the subjects involved, are as follows:

Book One[edit]

Book Two[edit]

Book Three[edit]

Book Four[edit]

  • "Crime and Punishment"—Alvin (Tommy) Bridges, Joseph Small, Hans Gobler and James Sanders, Charlie Miller, Jacques Raboud, Walter and Olga Nowak, Erich Luth, Vitaly Korotich, Joseph Levine
  • "A Turning Point"—Joseph Polowsky, Galina Alexeyeva, Mikhail Nikolaevich Alexeyev, Viktor Andreyevich Kondratenko, Grigori Baklanov
  • "Chilly Winds" -- Telford Taylor, Eileen Barth, Arno Mayer, Anthony Scariano, Erhard Dabringhaus, Irving Goff, Milton Wolff, Hans Massaquoi
  • "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?"—Philip Morrison, John H. Grove, Marnie Seymour, Bill Barney, Father George Zabelka, Hajimi Kito and Hideko Tamura (Tammy) Friedman, Victor Tolley, John Smitherman, Joseph Stasiak
  • "Remembrance of Things Past"—Nancy Arnot Harjan, Paul Edwards

Epilogue: Boom Babies and Other New People[edit]

  • Nora Watson, Joachim Adler and Marlene Schmidt, Steve McConnell, Debbie Cooney, George Seymour, Street-Corner Kids

Critical Reception[edit]

The Good War met with positive reviews upon its publication in the fall of 1984. Loudon Wainwright, writing for The New York Times, stated in a review published on October 7, 1984, "Ten, 20, 30 years from now the best witnesses to World War II will be largely gone. But Presidents honoring them will surely have access to a copy of Studs Terkel's most recent exercise in memory harvesting, The Good War. It is hard to see how any reader now or then can fail to benefit from its 600 pages."[5] Gaddis Smith, in a capsule review in the journal Foreign Affairs, claimed, "This book sustains Studs Terkel's reputation as the nation's foremost practitioner of the difficult (although seemingly simple) art of oral history."[6] Kirkus Reviews assessment of the book, dated October 11, 1984, included the following: "In World War II memories, Terkel has found a great, untold story--with fore-shadowings of Vietnam and aftershocks of atomic warfare."[7]

In 1985, The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.

Subsequent Influence[edit]

Max Brooks has said that The Good War inspired him to write his novel World War Z. Brooks stated: "It's an oral history of World War II I read when I was a teenager, and it's sat with me ever since. When I sat down to write World War Z, I wanted it to be in the vein of an oral history."[8]


External links[edit]