The Forties in America Review

“The cover of the three-volume set from Salem Press juxtaposes World War II bombers and atomic mushroom clouds with Joe DiMaggio and Betty Grable, suggesting the balance of content between the martial and the cultural contained within the text. Ordered by date, the entries open with an introductory paragraph, are brief and cover most topics in a page or less, with annotated references and cross-references to related articles. Illustrations are ample with a half-page devoted to many of the iconic images, and black-and-white works for most of the photographs.
The general culture-related articles, ranging from immigration to travel to theater, often pair the U.S. and the Canadian perspectives in two national articles. Entries on gangsters, zoot suits, sexually transmitted diseases, and even mention of Kinsey keep the content edgy. From the origins of Superman and Wonder Woman to Ayn Rand and Reader’s Digest (a particularly typical 1940s juxtaposition), to the construction of the Pentagon, lynching, Levittown, and Eames chairs, there is ample fodder for student historians. Other topics, such as the White House renovations revealed during Truman’s administration and the Texas City cargo ship explosion in 1947, capture moments on the verge of disappearing.
…It is in the area of cultural information where this book shines. The book features articles on theatrical and cinematic touchstones like South Pacific, Stormy Weather, and A Streetcar Named Desire. Coverage extends to Alfred Hitchcock, Hank Williams, even hairstyles — featuring Veronica Lake demonstrating the hazards of the peekaboo look for war workers in a cautionary photograph.
… While the limited length of the articles means serious students will likely continue their research in more specialized sources, the timeline format makes this book quite readable, and history buffs could devour the entire three volumes from cover-to-cover. Recommended for school and public libraries.”
-Gale Reference Reviews

“While intended for high school students and college undergraduates, more advanced students and even scholars would find this work useful as a source of quick, factual information on almost everything related to the 1940s, from Abbott and Costello to Zoot suits… it cannot be disputed that the decade of the 1940s was shaped by World War II, a worldwide calamity that profoundly altered the global political and economic power structure, ushered in a Cold War stalemate between former allies, and left the world thereafter under the ominous prospect of nuclear destruction. As would be expected, the military aspects of World War II, from major campaigns and battles to weaponry and leadership, command considerable attention in these volumes, but so also does the war's broader impact on government, business, culture, and daily life. And not overlooked are many of the decade's specific contributions to history: aerosol cans, microwave ovens, instant photography, transistors, desegregation of the military, the first alleged sightings of flying saucers, and the big bang theory in physics... Over 340 scholars have contributed 654 articles on everything from art and architecture, business and economics, the environment, and health and medicine to Latinos, music, radio, and religion and theology… Some 320 photographs, 25 maps, and about 100 sidebars add to the study's appeal, as do the 17 indexes at the end of volume 3. Quite literally, those indexes are a storehouse of information: major films, Broadway plays, radio programs, best-selling books, sports events, Supreme Court decisions, a glossary of new words and slang of the 1940s, an annotated bibliography, and much more. High school and college libraries should consider this set for their reference collections…”
-ARBA, 2011

“…this set gives an overview of people and events of a decade. More than 650 alphabetically arranged articles (Abbott and Costello through Zoot suits) provide information on U.S. (and some Canadian) history and culture…
Entries follow the typical format – title, brief definition, dates, and text that describes the significance or impact. “Further Reading” suggests at least two books (no websites) after every entry…

Just about every well-known person in politics and entertainment of the decade is here, as are notable events and trends (Baby boom, Nylon stockings, Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse) and war-related topics (Dieppe raid; Midway, Battle of). Lesser-known issues are included, too (Japanese-Canadian internment, Wartime seizures of business). Information is much more thorough than in Gale’s American Decades, 1940-1949 (1995), and as usual, online access is included with purchase of the print set. Because of the wide coverage and readable style, the set is ideal for high-school and public libraries.”

“While the obvious audience for this work is high school and beginning undergraduate students,
it is also a useful resource for upper-division students and scholars researching the 1940s… distinctive
feature of this set is a special section in each article that provides information on the impact of a particular event or person on the 1940s… Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers; general readers.”