Brooke L. Blower

Aug 30, 2023

Americans in a World at War

Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan Am's Yankee Clipper

Oxford University Press 2023

On February 21, 1943, Pan American Airways’ celebrated seaplane—the Yankee Clipper—took off from New York and island-hopped its way across the Atlantic Ocean. Arriving at Lisbon the following evening, it crashed in the Tagus River, killing twenty-four of its thirty-nine passengers and crew. 

In her new book, Americans in a World at War: Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan Am's Yankee Clipper (Oxford UP, 2023), author Brooke L. Blower traces the backstories of seven worldly Americans aboard that plane, their personal histories, their politics, and the paths that led them toward war. This vivid narrative captures the dramatic stories of these seven people and, through them, the impact of Americans’ global connections before and during World War II. Long before GIs began storming beaches and liberating towns, Americans had forged extensive political, economic, and personal ties to other parts of the world. These deep and sometimes contradictory engagements, which preceded the bombing of Pearl Harbor, would shape and in turn be transformed by the U.S. war effort. The intriguing biographies of the Yankee Clipper’s passengers—among them an Olympic-athlete-turned-export-salesman, a Broadway star, and two entrepreneurs accused of trading with the enemy—upend conventional American narratives about World War II. Americans in a World at War offers fresh perspectives on a transformative period of U.S. history and global connections during the “American Century.”

Brooke L. Blower is an Associate Professor of History at Boston University.

James Kates is a Professor of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

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James Kates

James Kates is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He has worked as an editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other publications.

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