Glen Jeansonne’s investigation of the “America First” mothers’ movement, a massive network of ultraright isolationist women’s organizations that flourished in the Midwest and on both coasts from 1939 until the bombing of Pearl Harbor, is an informative and often shocking book. It is also a welcome corrective to the popular notion that almost everyone in the United States supported “the good fight,” and to the tendency in women’s peace studies to assume that female peace protest is always on the side of the angels.
Male right-wing isolationists of the 1930s, led by Father Coughlin and Gerald K. Smith, have received a good deal of study, and women’s peace history has become a rapidly growing enterprise. We have had monographs and articles on the Women’s Peace party of 1915, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Women’s Peace Union, founded in 1921, and Women Strike for Peace, but female peace activism of the right has remained largely unexamined. Consequently feminist theorists who postulate a special relationship of women, mothers in particular, to antimilitarism have given insufficient consideration to women’s peace protest from the right, and to militarist women who support what liberals and leftists consider unjust or imperialist wars...
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