Critique of a Source
“History is a fact: A deeper look at the average modern day American citizen’s perspective of World War II.”
Significance of research question
I have decided to research the question stated in order to show that a large portion of modern day Americans do not know enough of the facts about World War II. Especially since more time has passed since the Third Reich has fallen, it is important that people all over the world remember the impact World War II had on society and that it should never be forgotten. In order to make sure that this happens people need to be educated and taught the facts about the happenings of World War II. The audience is people interested in knowing the knowledge of Americans regarding the topic and people who are interested in World War II. Being from Europe, which was the main war front during World War II, I believe Americans have always had a different perspective at the war than Europeans. In order to find out if this is a myth or reality I want to research this topic. From my beliefs, American people, especially after more time has gone by, do not know the entirety of the war’s happenings. The research will show if the modern day Americans know the facts of World War II.
To find the article I looked at www.ucblueash.edu, which shows a tab saying “Library”. After clicking on that tab, I was directed to the online library of the University of Cincinnati. When clicking on the tab “Articles” it shows a section called “Academic Search Complete”, this is the database used to find the article. By using the key words World War II contemporary perspective, I found the article. It is the third one presented in the link and is called “America in World War II: An analysis of history textbooks from England, Japan, Sweden, and the United States”.
The article was written by authors Stuart Foster and Jason Nicholls in the Journal of Curriculum & Supervision, which is an academic journal. Both Foster and Nicholls have impressive academic resumes, studying at the University of London and the University of Oxford, respectively.
In the academic journal titled “America in World War II: An analysis of history textbooks from England, Japan, Sweden, and the United States, authors Stuart Foster and Jason Nicholls present findings from their study regarding the different perspectives history textbooks from different countries about the role the United States of America played in World War II. Foster and Nicholls look at the information presented in the textbooks, what information the textbooks focus on and what information they do not use.
By studying the curriculum in different countries, ranging from two allies in the United States and England, to a wartime enemy in Japan and a neutral country in Sweden the authors are attempting to find any differences in what students are actually taught regarding World War II. According to their study, the information presented in the textbooks varies considerably. As Foster and Nicholls state, “the study illuminates stark differences in national portrayals of World War II and suggests that textbook representations appear to be influenced by nationalistic bias, different cultural and geopolitical perspectives, and the sociopolitical agendas of contemporary societies”(214). That there is a certain national bias, even in curriculum, is very obvious since the countries studied have very different views at the war.
Analyze the source
This article is extremely relevant to my topic since it discusses different views of World War II in textbooks and is an academic journal. Of course most of the information that most people know today about the war comes from curriculum, since there is no actuality about World War II more than half a Century after the fall of the Third Reich. People do not get their information from newspapers or the news since not many people pay attention to it.
However, World War II has played an enormous part in the development of democracy and the world that we know today. Therefore it is very important that anyone, young and old, knows the facts and the happenings of World War II.
Every nation researched in the article have all experienced the war from different perspectives. The United States fought a large part of their war in the Pacific, facing Japan while also having to help the Allies in Europe. Since their arriving in Europe created a positive effect on the war it is understandable that textbooks present America’s achievements as impressive.
According to Foster and Nichols, the U.S. textbooks use dramatic language a lot, such as “Only an exhausted Britain stood between the Nazis and their dream of dominating the European continent”(218). They refer to their entrance to the war in 1941, when Nazi Germany had already overtaken the European continent except for Britain, who had withstood the Nazis before the U.S. even entered the war. The U.S. textbooks hardly mention any happenings or battles before 1941, because it was not their war yet.
British textbooks, as Foster and Nichols mention, do put a large emphasis on the start of the war in Europe and the establishment of Nazi Germany’s dominance before 1941 while Sweden, which due to its geographical positioning in Europe received more information regarding the Eastern front and the battles in USSR territory, such as Stalingrad. The U.S. textbooks do not show much information about Stalingrad and the significance it had on World War II, as the USSR had more casualties at Stalingrad than the United States had in the entire war. As one of the English textbooks quotes, “from 1941-1944, eighty-five percent of Germany’s armed forces were committed to the campaign in the U.S.S.R”(224) and that Winston Churchill said “it was the Red Army which tore the heart out of the German army”(224). This shows the role the U.S.S.R. played in World War II, while the U.S.S.R. was the one who invaded Berlin and stopped World War II. Furthermore, proving that the U.S. textbooks focus on certain events, such as the Pacific battles, while not showing information about the battles on the Eastern front.
Since I want to find out the knowledge modern day Americans have of World War II in its entirety, this article is very appropriate. It provides information about textbooks in different countries with different perspectives and provides facts about the war. The perspectives of America’s role differ a lot. In every other textbook besides those in the U.S., the role the United States played is smaller and they focus on different events. Significantly the influence of the U.S.S.R. on World War II.
Foster, Stuart, and Nicholls, Stuart. “America In World War II: An Analysis Of History Textbooks From England, Japan, Sweden, And The United States.” Journal Of Curriculum & Supervision 20.3 (2005): 214-233. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Oct. 2012.