The Great Plains during World War II

The Great Plains during World War II

The Great Plains during World War II

The Great Plains during World War II

Synopsis

After World War II, the pivotal event in twentieth-century American history, life both at home and abroad seemed more complex and more dangerous than ever before. The political, economic, and social changes wrought by the war, such as the centralization and regulation of economic affairs by the federal government, new roles for women and minorities in American life, and the world leadership of the United States, remained in place after the soldiers and sailors returned home. Although the impact of World War II was not as transformative for the Great Plains as it was for other areas of the United States, it was still significant and tumultuous. Emphasizing the region's social and economic history, The Great Plains during World War II is the first book to examine the effects of the war on the region and the responses of its residents. Beginning with the isolationist debate that preceded the war, R. Douglas Hurt traces the residents' changing view of the European conflict and its direct impact on the plains. Hurt argues that the people of the Great Plains based their patriotic response to the war effort on the concept of comparative sacrifice. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources, this compelling and frank history brings to life the voices and experiences of the residents of the Great Plains in recounting the story of the daily concerns of ordinary people that have become part of the nation's history of this seminal event.

Excerpt

The Great Plains spreads across the vastness of ten states, or at least portions of those states. It is an amorphous region not easily identified because the boundaries change with the definition of theregion. Some locate the parameters of the Great Plains by grass species. Others trace the border by annual precipitation averages. Still others use soil composition or the ninety-eighth or one hundredth meridian to locate the eastern boundary. In 1936 the federal government authorized the Great Plains Committee to survey the drought-stricken, windblown plains for the purpose of recommending socioeconomic changes, including soil conservation procedures and wise land management practices. This committee used county boundaries to identify the region. All the various identifying tools are satisfactory, but none are perfect, and only a rough uniformity links them. In all cases the boundaries ebb and flow. Given the sweep of this book, I have chosen to identify the region as one composed of ten states—North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. My definition includes scientific and environmental determinants, but I also use political boundaries for structure and manageability. Historically speaking, state boundaries make a difference, even though the borders are arbitrary geographic and political lines, because such boundaries help shape the historical developments that are unique to a specific place or region. State and regional boundaries have a powerful symbolic importance and help determine relationships among people and institutions, that is, society, the economy, and the state. Put differently, place makes a difference, and in this study place is the Great Plains. Essentially, my geographic outline of the region traces the Great Plains from the eastern boundary of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma to Dallas before meandering down to the San Antonio area, then heading northwest through Roswell, New Mexico, to Albuquerque and then north along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. For the . . .

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