An American Tragedy: A 50th Anniversary

Walt Disney's Private Snafu: The Use of Humor in World War II Army Film*

David H. Culbert

What had been good enough for Tennyson's Light Brigade simply would not do for American soldiers in World War II. In 1916, 1.7 million Americans were in high school; in 1940, 7.1 million. In 1916, 400,000 attended college; in 1940, 1.4 million. When the attack on Pearl Harbor came, the Army had to cope with an educational revolution. A radical change was needed in the training methods which had been designed for the barely literate soldier. Unthinking obedience had become a thing of the past. The educated soldier demanded a reason why before he would act.

Assistant Professor of History at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He has published articles on radio commentators Boake Carter and Raymond Gram Swing, as well as the Vanderbilt Television News Archive. His book News for Everyman: Radio Commentators and Foreign Affairs in Thirties America is scheduled for publication in 1976.


* A grant from the Louisiana State University Graduate Council on Research supported the research for this article.