The Bonus Army by Paul Dickson
An American Epic

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In the summer of 1932, at the height of the Depression, some forty-five thousand veterans of World War I descended on Washington, D.C., from all over the country to demand the bonus promised them eight years earlier for their wartime service. President Herbert Hoover, Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur, and others feared the protesters would turn violent after the Senate defeated the "bonus bill" that the House had passed. On July 28, 1932, tanks rolled through the streets as MacArthur's troops evicted the bonus marchers: Newspapers and newsreels showed graphic images of American soldiers driving out their former comrades in arms. Through seminal research, including interviews with the last surviving witnesses, Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen tell the full and dramatic story of the Bonus Army and of the many celebrated figures involved in it: Evalyn Walsh McLean, the owner of the hope diamond, sided with the marchers; Roy Wilkins saw the model for racial integration here; J. Edgar Hoover built his reputation against the Bonus Army radicals; a young Gore Vidal witnessed the crisis while John dos Passos, Sherwood Anderson, and Sinclair Lewis wrote about it. Dickson and Allen also recover the voices of ordinary men who dared tilt at powerful injustice, and who ultimately transformed the nation: The march inspired Congress to pass the G. I. Bill of Rights in 1944, one of the most important pieces of social legislation in our history, which in large part created America's middle class. The Bonus Army is an epic story in the saga of our country.

About Paul Dickson

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Paul Dickson is the author of several classic baseball books, including The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, The Unwritten Rules of Baseball, The Hidden Language of Baseball, and The Joy of Keeping Score. He is also the author of the seminal narrative history Sputnik: The Shock of the Century and the coauthor of the acclaimed The Bonus Army: An American Epic. He lives in Garrett Park, Maryland.
Published December 15, 2010 by Walker Books. 370 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction

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The general replied, “If you get these 500,000 soldiers advocating anything smelling of fascism, I am going to get 500,000 more and lick the hell out of you, and we will have real war right at home.” The lesson the New Deal government took home: avoid ticking off discontented veterans, whence th...

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The New York Times

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"The Bonus Army" tells how these frustrated veterans decided to force the federal government's hand.

Feb 21 2005 | Read Full Review of The Bonus Army: An American Epic

Publishers Weekly

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Before the Million Man March, the Million Mom March or Martin Luther King, Jr.'s March on Washington, there was the Bonus Expeditionary Force (BEF): 45,000 WWI vets who, in 1932, swarmed Washington, D.C., in freight cars, crank-start jalopies, on motorcycles and even on foot from as far away as P...

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Bookmarks Magazine

Janet Maslin Oregonian 3.5 of 5 Stars "Extensively researched and documented, The Bonus Army provides a valuable historical record as well as a timely look at how this nation has treated its veterans and its homeless."

Jan 12 2008 | Read Full Review of The Bonus Army: An American Epic

In Portland, Oregon, veterans organized a Bonus Expeditionary Force (named after the American Expeditionary Force of WWI) for a march on Washington to lobby Congress on behalf of the bonus.

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Project MUSE

Drawing on an impressive range of primary and secondary sources, Bonus Army offers a riveting account of the struggle by World War I veterans to secure adjusted compensation—a bonus—from the federal government.

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