David M. Wrobel is a historian of American thought and culture and the American West. Dean of arts and sciences and at the University of Oklahoma, he also holds the Merrick Chair in Western History and the David L. Boren Professorship there and has been engaged in a wide range of partnerships with K-12 educators over the years. He is the author of The West and America, 1890–1950: A History (2017), Global West, American Frontier: Travel, Empire, and Exceptionalism, from Manifest Destiny to the Great Depression (2013), winner of the Western Heritage Award; Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West (2002); and The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal (1993). He is currently working on "John Steinbeck's America: From the Great Depression to the Great Society." He is a past president of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association as well as of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society, and current president of the Western History Association.
John Steinbeck was the first American writer of note to speak out against the policy of internment and relocation of Japanese and Japanese Americans on the West Coast. He served as a propagandist for the U.S government during World War II (while simultaneously begin investigated by the government for his presumed radicalism during the Depression years), and as a war correspondent, in London, North Africa, and Italy in 1943. He wrote memorable accounts of the soldier and civilian experiences that were syndicated across the country. In 1947, he traveled to the Soviet Union and wrote about the lives of ordinary people in the aftermath of war and destruction. A generation later, in the winter of 1966-67, Steinbeck traveled to Vietnam as a war correspondent and offered a controversial series of articles about the conflict. This image-heavy PowerPoint lecture examines this lesser known, yet highly influential phase of Steinbeck's life and career, when he worked hard to uphold both the "ancient commission of the writer" and his commitment to his country during wartime.