The Second Line of Defense:

American Women and World War I

  • Runtime: 14.8 Hours
  • Recording: Unabridged
  • Release date: 2.13.2017
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio
  • Genre: Nonfiction/History
  • 14.80 hrs2/13/2017Unabridged
  • ISBN-13: 9781504799157
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In tracing the rise of the modern idea of the American “new woman,” Lynn Dumenil examines World War I’s surprising impact on women and, in turn, women’s impact on the war.

Telling the stories of a diverse group of women, including African Americans, dissidents, pacifists, reformers, and industrial workers, Dumenil analyzes both the roadblocks and opportunities they faced. She richly explores the ways in which women helped the United States mobilize for the largest military endeavor in the nation’s history. Dumenil shows how women activists staked their claim to loyal citizenship by framing their war work as home-front volunteers, overseas nurses, factory laborers, and support personnel as “the second line of defense.” But in assessing the impact of these contributions on traditional gender roles, Dumenil finds that portrayals of these new modern women did not always match with real and enduring change.

Extensively researched and drawing upon popular culture sources as well as archival material, The Second Line of Defense offers a comprehensive study of American women and war and frames them in the broader context of the social, cultural, and political history of the era.

Editorial Reviews

“This unique and previously unexplored view into a rarely examined history will be an excellent complement to Lettie Gavin’s American Women in World War I: They Also Served. Recommended for public and academic libraries.”

Library Journal

“An elegant writer and vivid storyteller, Lynn Dumenil brings to life the experiences of women during World War I…A great read!”

Elaine Tyler May, author of Homeward Bound

“Written with a storyteller’s ear for the lost voices of our nation’s past…Should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the America we live in a century later.”

Chris Capozzola, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Author Biography

Lynn Dumenil is a Robert Glass Cleland professor emerita of American history at Occidental College in California. She is the author of Freemasonry and American Culture, 1880–1930, among other books.

Reader Biography

Susan Hanfield is an Audie Award–winning narrator who comes from a strong classical theater background and loves bringing deep characterizations to all of her work. She has narrated over twenty books, including Ru Emerson’s six-book Night-Threads series. On camera, she has been seen commercially and in numerous international, national, and regional network spots. She also played the title character in Magdalene, an award-winning short film.

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