For God and Country: The American Legion, 1919-1941

William Pencak, Author Northeastern University Press $35 (411p) ISBN 978-1-55553-050-1
Citing sources from the files of the American Civil Liberties Union as often as those of the American Legion itself, Pencak outlines the Legion's principal programs, the controversies they engendered and the organization's impact on American life from its founding to the beginning of World War II. In this objective study of one of the most powerful lobbies in history, the author traces the campaigns against Bolshevism, Fascism, immigrants and leftist educators, all of whom in the Legion's view threatened the homogeneous society it considered ideal. Pencak describes how the Legion, having achieved generous benefits for veterans during the inter-war period of isolationism, shifted to an interventionist position against the Nazis on the eve of WW II, adding weight to the call for rearmament as well as positioning itself for a similar stand against Communism in the postwar era. The study vividly demonstrates that interest-group politics can influence the enactment of legislation which affects a much larger constituency than the interest group itself. Pencak is an associate professor of history at Penn State. Illustrations. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
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