God and Uncle Sam

God and Uncle Sam

Religion and America's Armed Forces in World War II

Michael Snape


Boydell Press



An authoritative and timely book shedding new light on the role of religion during World War II and its impact on post-war American society.
America's armed forces played a critical part in the defeat of Hitler's Germany and made by far the biggest contribution to the Allied defeat of Japan. In the US, military veterans of World War II are widely revered as the foremost representatives of 'the greatest generation', a generation that vanquished fascism in Europe and the Far East, faced down the threat of communism during the Cold War, and achieved unprecedented levels of prosperity and social mobility in their own society. Elsewhere, America's service men and women are often remembered more ambivalently for their material abundance, their hedonism, and even their rapacity.
God and Uncle Sam shows that both perspectives are problematic: America's armed forces were the products of one of the most diverse and dynamic religious cultures in the western world and were the largest ever to be raised by a professedly religious society. Despite constitutional constraints, a pre-war 'religious depression', and the myriad pitfalls of war, religion played a crucial role in helping more than sixteen million uniformed Americans through the ordeal of World War II, a fact that had profound and far-reaching implications for the religious development of post-war America. This timely and authoritative book draws on meticulous research in US archives and is informed by contemporary films, photographs, posters, and sound recordings.

MICHAEL SNAPE is Michael Ramsey Professor of Anglican Studies at Durham University.


32 black and white illustrations
744 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Hardback, 9781843838920, May 2015
Library eBook
BISAC HIS027100, HIS036060, REL033000
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Related Titles

Table of Contents

Chaplains and Chaplaincy
Religion and American Military Culture
The Faithful in Arms
Foxhole Religion and Wartime Faith
Global Encounters
Religion, War and Morality


2015 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

Snape has written a massive and thorough study on the role that religion played in the US armed services during WW II. . . . (T) his book challenges thinking not only about the US experience in WW II but also about the relationship between religion and civic life. Highly recommended. CHOICE

This work belongs on the bookshelf of any historian who focuses on American religion in the twentieth century. For military historians, Snape has performed an invaluable service, especially for those who seek to gain a better understanding of the social history of the American combatant. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

A treasure trove of information. THE CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW.

A significant contribution to the study of a unique period in the religious life of a nation.. (It) also makes an important contribution to the understanding of what makes modern America. METHODIST RECORDER

This is a landmark study that will be the standard for years to come and a foundational piece for subsequent specialized studies of religion and the Second World War. CERCLES

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