Voices of World War II
Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life
by Priscilla Roberts, Editor
August 2012, 236pp, 8 1/2 x 11
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38662-6
$115, £89, 100€, A158
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eBook Available: 978-0-313-38663-3
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In August 1942, Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, knowing they would probably not survive the war, buried three containers of documents relating to their lives as testimony to their existence. After the war, two of these caches of written material were retrieved and preserved. This is just one example of the extraordinary and priceless primary documents that serve to tell the stories of World War II that were never shown in newsreel films or recounted in typical history books.

Drawing together a wide variety of primary source documents from across the United States, Europe, and Asia, this book illuminates the events and experiences of World War II—the most devastating war in human history.

World War II was the most destructive and disruptive war ever, a global conflict that in one way or another affected the lives of people across the planet. Voices of World War II: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life coalesces a wide variety of primary source documents drawn from across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Supplemented by interpretive material that enables readers to analyze them, assess their impact and significance, and place them in context to comparable situations today, the documents provide rare insights into World War II.

Expert commentaries and additional information on these texts enable a greater understanding of the background to these documents, providing valuable training in learning to interpret, assess, and evaluate historical sources. Intended primarily for upper-level high school and undergraduate-level history students, general readers will also appreciate the variegated array of primary material from World War II, which depicts numerous aspects of the conflict, often in extremely personal terms.


  • A chronology lists all major events of World War II
  • A bibliography provides an up-do-date selection of basic books, Internet sources, and movies and television series on World War II
  • A glossary defines key World War II terms and phrases
  • Extensive commentary, contextual information, and guiding questions accompany each document
Priscilla Roberts, PhD, is associate professor of history at the University of Hong Kong and honorary director of the university's Centre of American Studies. She read history as an undergraduate at King's College, Cambridge, where she also completed her doctorate. Roberts has written and edited many books, including Window on the Forbidden City: The Beijing Diaries of David Bruce, 1973–1974; Behind the Bamboo Curtain: China, Vietnam, and the World beyond Asia; and Lord Lothian and Anglo-American Relations, 1900–1940.


"Students in AP history and literature classes and general library users who want to read words from those who lived through the war years will find this a useful resource."—School Library Journal, April 1, 2013

"Adding to the growing bibliography of history told by everyday citizens rather than through the eyes of presidents and generals, Voices of World War II is a welcome contribution. It arranges primary documents from everyday citizens involved in World War II, including those from the United States, Europe, and Asia. The primary documents provide rare insight into the lives, thoughts, and realities of how this great war impacted the lives of soldiers, citizens, and victims."—ARBA, January 1, 2013

"A good introduction to WWII, with excellent research questions and guides appropriate for high school and undergraduate students. This volume would be appropriate for circulating collections to give students and teachers time to utilize the tools in each chapter."—Booklist, December 1, 2012

Voices of an Era

The Voices of an Era series utilizes primary document excerpts, with introductory and follow-up material, to illuminate the character and social history of particular historical periods.

From sexual mores in ancient Egypt to resistance music in modern Latin America, from the fashion sense of the Mongols to the importance of film in modern India, the world comes alive in the award-winning Voices of an Era.

Each volume focuses on a specific historical era, offering a window into those times by bringing together a fascinating collection of primary documents, organized by cultural and social topics (art, food, religion, family life, recreation, etc.). Introductions, critical thinking questions, and other supporting material help teachers use these documents to bring true, effective inquiry-based learning to their classrooms.


Each of volume of Voices of an Era features 40-50 primary sources A chronology of the period cover in that volume Selected bibliography of print and nonprint sources (including Web sites, DVDs, CD ROMs, videos, films, etc.) suitable for student research A glossary of terms found in the introductory and followup material 15-30 sidebars per vol. Include "Did you Know"-type information, explanations of key concepts, etc. 40-50 Definition Fact Boxes per vol. Include definitions of unfamiliar terms from the text of the documents themselves.
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