INTRODUCTION
AN AMERICAN EPIC

This is the first of three volumes to record an epic of America. During this last half-century, American organizations--voluntary and governmental--have provided the margins of food, medicines, and clothing which saved the lives of 1,400,000,000 human beings, mostly women and children, who otherwise would have perished.

For thousands of years, the question "Am I my brother's keeper?" has echoed in the conscience of mankind. The American people were the first in history to accept that obligation as a nation. Never before has a nation undertaken such burdens, consciously and collectively, that human life, and even civilization, might be preserved.

Our people accomplished this task of compassion by self-denial, by longer hours of labor and greater tax burdens--and with no return other than to their own consciences.

* * *

I make no apology for presenting a connected, detailed account of these accomplishments, for I participated in many of these efforts and I have had access to a mass of documentation hitherto not available to others. And I have had the assistance of my many colleagues in its preparation. Thus perhaps I alone am in a position to tell the whole magnificent story.

* * *

Within a period of twoscore years, the world engaged in two total wars in which not only almost all nations on earth were involved, but

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