In GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation, Deborah Dash Moore looks at the ways in which a number of Jewish soldiers entered the military in World War II, went through the trials of combat and long separation from their families, and encountered religious and social prejudice while fighting for democracy overseas. The individual stories that she recounts are diverse and gripping as these men struggled to maintain their religious identity in the armed forces against currents of prejudice and a lack of understanding. During the process of fighting the Japanese and especially the Germans, Jewish fighting men came to understand how much their religious heritage meant and why they had joined the battle against tyranny.
One of the book’s strengths is Moore’s ability to take the reader inside the lives of this diverse group of individuals and to demonstrate the many ways in which they served their country with honor and distinction. She makes a compelling case that her subjects found new ways to grasp the full meaning of their place as Jews in the United States. For readers of this book who are not Jewish, Moore’s fast-paced narrative will be instructive about how the dominant culture in World War II both accommodated and resisted the presence of Jewish soldiers in the military. She has recreated a little- known chapter of that conflict and added new dimensions to the record of what has been called “the greatest generation” of Americans, among whom were the Jewish soldiers who contributed so much to final victory and a better life after the war.