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Edward J. Jeffries Jr., was elected mayor of Detroit in 1937 and for a decade led the city through a period of race riots, union turmoil, and unprecedented growth. Jeffries’s circle of friends was made up primarily of newspaper reporters who shared his interests and lifestyle. Devoted to family, they nevertheless worked long hours, smoked heavily, drank moderately, and gambled often in their running card games of gin and poker.
After Pearl Harbor, Jeffries watched his closest friends, most twelve to fourteen years his junior, enlist in the armed forces. Voracious letter writers, over the next four years they shared with one another their innermost hopes and fears. They told stories about Gen. George S. Patton, the surrender of Japan, of commanding African American soldiers during the Normandy invasion, and the battles on the home front in the heart of Detroit, the “Arsenal of Democracy.”
These letters present a candid portrait of the intellectual and political leadership of Detroit—and America. These men were confident in their values, aware of their responsibilities, and logical in their actions as they helped forge the weapons that turned back the fascist threat to democracy. Their letters also reveal a level and kind of male camaraderie seemingly lost in the depersonalized, technocratic society of the postwar era. As such, this work provides a more complete understanding of how Americans reacted to—and were changed by—the “Good War.”
Dominic J. Capeci, Jr., professor of history at Southwest Missouri State University, is the author of Layered Violence: The Detroit Rioters of 1943 and Race Relations in Wartime Detroit.
"The letters document Detroit's transformation from an economically depressed community to a leading war production center. . . . A useful introduction to the relationship between World War II and the dynamics of local community life."—Choice
"Capeci has assembled an interesting, informative, even illuminating anthology of primary documents for Detroit during World War II."—Michigan Historical Review
"Although emphasizing Detroit, this collection of letters provides insights for anyone interested in how deeply World War II affected every American's life."—Military History of the West
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
World War II, Edward Jeffries, Detroit, Michigan
United States History
Capeci, Dominic J. Jr., "Detroit And The "Good War": The World War II Letters of Mayor Edward Jeffries and Friends" (1996). United States History. 131.