Sunday, March 1, 2009

Welcome to Christopher Capozzola!

The Legal History Blog welcomes Christopher Capozzola, Department of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will join us as a guest blogger for the next month.

Chris is the author of a great new book, Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen, published by Oxford University Press in June 2008. Here's the book description:
In April 1917, the United States embarked on World War I--with little history of conscription, an army smaller than Romania's, and a political culture that saw little role for the federal government other than delivering the mail. Uncle Sam Wants You tells the gripping story of the American homefront in World War I, revealing how the tensions of mass mobilization led to a significant increase in power in Washington.

Christopher Capozzola shows how, in the absence of a strong federal government, Americans at first mobilized society by stressing duty, obligation, and responsibility over rights and freedoms. In clubs, schools, churches, and workplaces, Americans governed each other. 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 state institutions. In the end, whether they were some of the four million men drafted under the Selective Service Act or the tens of millions of homefront volunteers--or counted themselves among the thousands of conscientious objectors, anti-war radicals, or German enemy aliens--Americans of the World War I era created a new American state, and new ways of being American citizens.

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.
And reviews & blurbs:
"A well crafted and important work that adds critical depth to the historical understanding of this transformative period of American history. Capozzola convincingly argues that during World War I the power of the state grew at the expense of citizens' rights."--Andrew Wiest, History: Reviews of New Books

"Capozzola does an excellent job of rendering the jingoistic, dogmatic mindset that characterized the country at a crucial time.... All this the author captures in eloquently rendered and assiduously researched detail."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A sharp sense of irony and dry wit undergird this eloquent history of how Americans remade their understanding of the relationship between state and citizen in the crucible of World War I. We now live with the massive structures of state power that were first constructed then; we share many of that generation's obligations and anxieties. Can we learn from their mistakes?"--Linda K. Kerber, author of No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship

"Uncle Sam Wants You immerses readers in one of the formative moments of the twentieth century, when the fervent production of war-time loyalty collided with much weaker voices of civil liberties and dissent. In an eloquent blend of historical narrative and political theory, Capozzola pursues the question: what can the state legitimately demand of its citizens? This is a powerfully told and eye-opening history whose implications will bring readers right up to the present."--Daniel T. Rodgers, author of Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age

"The stresses of wartime inevitably change a society, both in the short and the long term. Christopher Capozzola's Uncle Sam Wants You brilliantly illuminates the powerful and often unnoticed impact of World War I on American culture. By so doing, it sheds essential light on contemporary controversies that will affect the United States for years to come."--Geoffrey R. Stone, University of Chicago
Chris's new project brings together his interests in citizenship, the military, and migration. Brothers of the Pacific: America's Filipino Armies from 1898 to the War on Terror is a transnational history of American soldiers in the Philippines and Filipino soldiers in the U.S in the twentieth century.

Welcome to Chris Capozzola!