Book Review: Thanks for the Memories: Love, Sex, and World War II


by Jane Mersky Leder

Dulles: Potomac Books Inc., 2009. Pp. xvii, 185. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $17.95 paper. ISBN: 1597972770

Lively, and often insightful, Thanks for the Memories looks at the manifold ways in which love and sex – in all their manifestations – were affected by and affected the American war effort during the Second World War. 

A judicious mix of numerous personal stories and anecdotes is used to illustrate often dry statistics on wartime marriages, prostitution, VD, illegitimate births, and more. In the process, the book touches upon prejudices against blacks, Jews, gays, and sex workers, and the often surprising compromises which society, and the Brass, were willing to make in to order to win the war., such as licensing prostitutes in Hawaii.  As Leder is primarily a student of social relationships, there are a number of errors when it comes to military terminology and usages (e.g., the U.S. suffered 10,000 casualties on D-Day, not deaths) and some curious mistakes in terminology (e.g., “New Britain” where “New England” is meant), which do not detract from the book’s insights into this important and largely ignored aspect of the Second World War.

A good read for anyone interested in America at war.  

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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