Victory City by John Strausbaugh – Review

Jim Feast

John Strausbaugh, Victory City: A History of New York and New Yorkers During World War II (New York: Twelve, 2018), 488 pages. John Strausbaugh’s Victory City is a chronicle of New York City right before, during and after World War II in a book that is at times sweeping in its marshaling of data, at others intimately in-depth in characterizing individual lives. Moreover, with an exemplary judiciousness, the book, while showing many instances of social solidarity as the city pulls together to battle the Axis, also reveals in every depiction, the counter-stresses that would maintain sexual and racial hierarchies, even to the point (before the U.S. directly enters the war) of many New Yorkers rooting for pro-fascist and anti-Semitic groups. His description of the Stage Door Canteen, for example, highlights this dual energy. The club on West 44th Street “was rather like a USO, only staffed with stars [who pitched in to aid the w...
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