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Music worth fighting for : the role of American popular music in the United States and the United Kingdom during World War II

Beeny, Martyn (2011) Music worth fighting for : the role of American popular music in the United States and the United Kingdom during World War II. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86450) (KAR id:86450)


This thesis examines the relationship between (primarily) American popular music, as defined within the thesis, and World War II society in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The hypothesis is that such music was affected by wartime society in both positive and negative ways, increasing its occurrence in day-to-day lives, but stifling its natural progression. Equally, such music influenced the conduct of the war by shaping the use of music within the military and how music was perceived and used by the two nations' populations during wartime. While the main focus of the research is American popular music, it was necessary to include a discussion of parts of the popular music industry in the United Kingdom due to the large numbers of American troops stationed on British soil and the prevalence of American music in British civilian daily life. The thesis examines the music itself, developing a description of what constituted popular music, as well as providing examples of that music affecting, and being affected by, the war. An examination of the popular music industry in the United States provides details as to how that successful sector of industry reacted to the war, and how it attempted to find its role within the conduct of the war. The increasingly important role of popular music

within the American armed forces is addressed pointing to the inclusion, for the first time, of popular music as an elemental part of the soldier's well-being. The British side of the interaction is addressed through a discussion of the pertinent parts of the music industry, the forces' use of music in the United Kingdom, and the provision of mass entertainment for troops, war workers and civilians for the first time during war. Research for this thesis was drawn from archives, libraries, newspapers and firstperson accounts from the United Kingdom and the United States.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86450
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: popular music, Second World War
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 13:52 UTC
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2022 15:02 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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