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The Music of World War II: War Songs and Their Stories

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The Music of World War II: War Songs and Their Stories

  • by Sheldon Winkler
    • Merriam Press World War 2 History Series
      • Second Revised Edition 2017
      • 156 6x9-inch pages
      • 54 photos and illustrations

Some of the most memorable and enduring popular music of the Twentieth Century was written during the Second World War. With patriotism at an all-time high, the war effort became an integral part of the entertainment industry, creating an emotional wartime dream world of heroes, love, remembrance, reflection, and introspection.
     The Music of World War II tells the stories behind the origins of many of these musical compositions, some of which have survived to become standards still popular today.

Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction: The Music of the Second World War
  • Chapter 1: My Sister and I: The True Story
  • Chapter 2: Love, Separation, and Homecoming
  • Chapter 3: Patriotism
  • Chapter 4: This Is the Army: The Musical and the Movie
  • Chapter 5: Tribute
  • Chapter 6: Military Service
  • Chapter 7: Casablanca and As Time Goes By
  • Chapter 8: Faith, Hope, and Devotion
  • Chapter 9: Novelty
  • Chapter 10: The Story of Lili Marlene
  • Epilogue
  • Acknowledgments
  • Bibliography

Reviews

The Music of World War II: War Sonmgs and Their Stories, 2nd Edition. Most wars have their own music, songs to stir the heart or relieve it of the stresses of battle. World War II was no different, and its tunes ran the gamut. Spike Jones and his City Slickers mocked Hitler in their novelty hit "Der Fuehrer’s Face." Woodie Guthrie wrote a tribute song for Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a Soviet sniper who is credited with killing 309 Nazis with her rifle. "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" was based on an actual event at Pearl Harbor and was so popular it became a slogan for over a generation.
     This expanded edition contains the background information of 15 different songs along with famous movies and musicals of the war. It provides the reader with a detailed view of the music that motivated, entertained, and consoled a population at war. Some of the songs are still popular today, but all of them are significant for their popularity and relevance to the period.
WWII History, December 2017

The Music of World War II: War Songs and their Stories
, authored by Sheldon Winkler, is a delightful and captivating book which I cannot praise highly enough. The book identifies specific World War II events, happenings, and individuals that have been the subjects of popular wartime songs (and to a lesser degree movies), many of which are still popular today. Meticulously researched and thought provoking, the book compliments the author's expertise in music and history. The author has catalogued and compartmentalized war songs into six groupings, namely love, separation, and homecoming; patriotic; tribute; military service; faith, hope, and devotion; and novelty. The author brilliantly deciphers from a unique multifaceted perspective the lyrics and music of popular wartime songs including The White Cliffs of Dover, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, and My Sister and I (all three of which are discussed in detail). Additional songs discussed are As Time Goes By, Der Fuehrer's Face, God Bless America, Johnny Zero, Lili Marlene, Miss Pavlichenko, Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition, Rosie the Riveter, The Ballad of Rodger Young, The Last Time I Saw Paris, and We're Gonna Hang Out the Washing on the Siegfried Line.
     A unique and fascinating aspect of this book is the critical appraisal of the relationship between several popular World War II songs and British Security Coordination in Rockefeller Center, an intricate secret-operations organization, whose objective was to encourage American participation in World War II. The author asserts that World War II was indeed one of the most creative and productive periods of American popular music and wartime songs were vital for bolstering morale and support for the war effort both at home and among our fighting troops stationed abroad.
     Once started, it is difficult to put this book down. A must read for World War II history buffs and music lovers.
—Christos D. Katsetos

A fascinating and well-written account of the music some of us were priviliged to have heard as children.
This book should appeal to both history and music buffs. As both a musician and an historian, Sheldon Winkler employs his vast erudition to illuminate many dark and obscure corners of history.There are many interesting facts about some famous and some not-so-famous players in the story of W.W. II.
I have no hesitation in highly recommending this book to anyone who has an interest in either World War II or the music of that era.
— Ruth and Richard Vlockon

Foothills [Arizona] resident Dr. Sheldon Winkler is the author of The Music of World War II: War Songs and Their Stories, now newly released by Merriam Press in March 2017. This second edition is an update and expansion of Dr. Winkler's first edition released in 2013. The new version contains expanded stories, additional songs, recently discovered pictures, and fascinating new facts about some of the most memorable and iconic songs from World War II.
—Shea Stanfield

The Author

Dr. Winkler is Professor Emeritus at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He previously served as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Prosthodontics and Dean of Research, Advanced Education, and Continuing Education at the School of Dentistry. He is a well-known educator, author, editor, researcher, and national and international speaker on prosthodontics, implant dentistry, dental materials, and geriatric dentistry, as well as the music of World War II. He founded the journal Implant Dentistry and is currently Senior Editor of the Journal of Oral Implantology. Winkler also contributes articles to World War II History magazine as part of his ongoing interest in the events from the mid-twentieth-century.
     Winkler’s love of music has been a life-long passion. When he was a young boy during World War II, his mother taught him to play the piano. During his elementary years, in public school, the students in the music classes learned lyrics to World War II related songs. This would begin a life-long desire to know more about the events that inspired the music of that time. Winkler went on to form a band in high school that played the Catskill Mountain hotels in New York and the Orange Mountain hotels in New Jersey. Occasionally, he appeared on the radio as a soloist. If this was not remarkable enough, he accomplished all of this while completing his college degree and finishing dental school at New York University College of Dentistry and his advanced training in prosthodontics at the School of Dental Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo. In addition to his dental responsibilities and musical talent Winkler has collected information through the years about the “story behind” patriotic songs and explored their impact on American culture and attitudes during the World War II years.
     The years between 1939-45 produced some of the most memorable and enduring popular music of the Twentieth Century. Patriotism was at an all-time high; the war effort became an integral part of the entertainment industry, creating an emotional dream world of heroes, love, remembrance, reflection and introspection. The Music of World War II tells the stories behind the origins of many of the musical compositions, some of which have survived to become standards, and are popular to this day. The book reviews the origins behind such songs as A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, Der Fuehrer's Face, As Time Goes By, God Bless America, I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen, Johnny Zero, The Ballad of Rodger Young, My Sister and I, Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition, Rosie the Riveter, and many more. Stories of selected World War II movies are also included in The Music of World War II, including classics such as Casablanca, The Last Time I Saw Paris, and The White Cliffs of Dover. The updated edition of the book discusses in detail the relatively unknown relationship of the wartime New York Office of British Security Coordination (BSC) in Rockefeller Center and popular wartime songs.
    Dr. Winkler states that World War II was one of the most productive periods of American popular music. The tunes written during that era were indispensable for boosting morale at home and raising the spirits of the troops stationed overseas. He believes that “there may never be another period of time where service men and women, their families, friends, and neighbors, will be so eager to express their patriotism through popular music. The war is long over, but the songs live on.”
     Today, Dr. Winkler is Adjunct Professor at Midwestern University School of Dental Medicine in Glendale, Arizona, and the University of Technology School of Oral Health Sciences, Kingston, Jamaica. He is also the President and the Executive Director of the American Academy of Implant Prosthodontics. The Academy has a number of affiliates and component organizations throughout the world. In 2006, Winkler moved to Arizona and relocated the Academy to Scottsdale.
     For additional information about the book or to contact Dr. Winkler to speak for your group or organization in reference to The Music of World War II: War Songs and Their Stories, he can be reached by email.

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