The Whole Damned World: Aggies at War, 1941-1945
published with New Mexico State University Library
Martha Shipman Andrews, editor, with an introduction by Richard A. Melzer
155 photographs – 380 pages
Selected as a Winner in the 2009 New Mexico Book Awards (Best History Book and Best New Mexico Book) and Finalist, 2009 National Best Book Awards
When students from New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (later NMSU) went off to war, their dean didn’t forget. Daniel B. Jett, Dean of Engineering from 1938 to 1947 was fondly known as “Dad” Jett to many of the students. When war called up his students, Jett carried on a personal correspondence with hundreds of young men and women. This book compiles the letters the kids wrote to Jett, including Jett’s responses. The back and forth of these letters boosted morale among the serving soldiers and nurses overseas and stateside. From a woman stationed in San Diego: “We got up every morning at 0545 (remember that Navy time I used to struggle with? I know it now!)” Besides being personable, the letters provide insights into the lives of those involved in world events during WWII. Photos/illustrations. —Enchantment, October 2010.
Here is a great example of collaboration between a university and private enterprise. Yes, the book is expensive because of a limited press run, and it's really designed for readers affiliated in some way with New Mexico State University, but it is nevertheless a great story. Daniel B. Jett, dean of the School of Engineering from 1938 to 1947, corresponded with NMSU students from all around the world serving in the military during WWII. Jett was beloved by his students and their letters back to him reveal an intimate side of WWII not often seen. Illustrated with black-and-white photos that enhance the narrative, the book is simultaneously joyous and horrific. This is a superb historical account of NMSU, and I gave it a "B+." -- Local IQ, June 3, 2009
The Whole Damned World: New Mexico Aggies at War: 1941-1945 collects the World War II written correspondence between Daniel B. Jett, the Dean of Engineering at the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (later NMSU) from 1938 to 1947, and hundreds of his former students serving the nation overseas and stateside during the war effort. Daniel "Dad" Jett composed class newsletters in addition to writing scores of letters; his enthusiasm helped raise morale among soldiers and nurses, as well as those helping the school during difficult times. Many of the letters reveal nostalgia for college days, and hope for returning to the school after the close of the war. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this revealing and emotionally moving correspondence collection. -- MidWest Book Review, April 2009
The Whole Damned World is the first book to receive ReadingNewMexico.com’s Caliente Award for outstanding books. The award, given only occasionally, goes to a book that the reviewer and editor consider “hot” – a must have for libraries and a must read for the public.
"As a narrative, The Whole Damned World is compelling with a variety of characters and plot twists guaranteed to keep the reader engrossed. As a history, it’s fully footnoted with several appendices including a timeline and a full listing of all those from A&M who served, including their fates. It also includes a comprehensive index. As a photo album, it makes the people and events come alive.
So why did ReadingNewMexico.com award this book the Caliente Award? Because it makes history compelling, real, and readable. It gives faces to those who served and captures a history that fewer and fewer remember as time goes on. In my opinion, this book should be required reading in history classes at every high school and college, not just in New Mexico, but across the world. And every library – especially every New Mexico library – should have it as part of their collection so that we never forget.
Kudos to Martha Shipman Andrews and New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, for recognizing the treasure they held in their hands. And kudos to Rio Grande Books for giving Dean Jett’s story and impact the setting it deserved. -- Reading New Mexico, March, 2009
Daniel B. Jett, the Dean of Engineering from 1938 to 1947 at what was known then as the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (later NMSU), carried on a personal correspondence with hundreds of his former students during World War II. Known affectionately as “Dad” Jett, Dean Jett was beloved by his students. During the war years, Jett composed class newsletters and wrote scores of letters to each of the men and women of the School of Engineering who served overseas or stateside. His tireless energy and enthusiasm boosted morale among those serving as soldiers or nurses, as well as those at home fighting to keep the school on an even keel during hard times. Jett’s students wrote to him as well. These letters provide indelible insights into the lives of young men and women involved in cataclysmic world events. The letters reveal a nostalgia for the college, infused with hope for returning to the school when the war ended.
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