Seventy-five years ago, on December 7, 1941, Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor confirmed the United States could no longer remain neutral in a global conflict that had been mounting since the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 and the German invasion of Poland in 1939. By any measure, this was truly a world war.
In desperation, Americans sent their first overseas expedition to the South Pacific in order to halt a string of Japanese military victories while simultaneously gearing up for war in Europe. This course examines the impact of American soldiers going to war in what was, for them, an exotic setting. We’ll consider this brief but rich period of American history between 1940−1945: how soldiers experienced the foreign lands, how they were received by the nationals—with all the ensuing cultural lessons and encounters—and the final Yankee farewell.
The course will include a discussion about Lt. Commander James Michener, the official Navy historian for the South Pacific, and his now legendary Tales of the South Pacific. Written in 1946, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning book—a collection of short stories and later a play based on his observations while stationed in the New Hebrides Islands—which will be celebrated by both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Guthrie Theater in the calendar year.
John Kim Munholland is Professor Emeritus of the University of Minnesota where he taught courses on modern European history for 42 years. A frequent LearningLife instructor, he holds a PhD in history from Princeton University and his research interests include World War II-era Europe and France through the ages.
Cancellations are subject to a ten-percent processing fee if received five or fewer working days before the program start. Refunds are not granted if you cancel on or after the first day of the program. Notice may be emailed or faxed to: firstname.lastname@example.org | 612-624-5359.