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The Great Plains during World War II

R. Douglas Hurt

Publication Year: 2008

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.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

List of Illustrations

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pp. viii-

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Preface

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pp. ix-xvi

"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 the region. Some locate the parameters of the Great Plains by grass species."

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1. Reluctance

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pp. 1-31

"World War II became the pivotal event in twentieth-century American history, after which life seemed more complex and dangerous than ever before, both at home and abroad. The political, economic, and social changes wrought by the war, such as the..."

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2. The Work of War

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pp. 32-60

"The summer of 1939 brought both fear and opportunity to residents of the Great Plains. Europe hurtled toward war, and no one seemed able to prevent the coming violence. Most Great Plains residents hoped to avoid it, but nearly everyone saw the economic..."

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3. Women at Work

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pp. 61-85

"Women took a host of jobs outside the home during World War II. Between 1940 and 1945 the number of women in the workforce expanded by more than 50 percent, from 11.9 to 18.6 million, for 37 percent of all workers. Approximately 75 percent..."

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4. The Home Front

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pp. 86-119

"The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declaration of war on the United States by Germany and Italy galvanized the men and women of the Great Plains against the Axis powers. The official entry of the United States into the war quickly..."

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5. Rationing

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pp. 120-146

"News of a new European war brought a spike in domestic prices for residents of the Great Plains. By September 7, 1939, only six days after Germany invaded Poland, food prices had escalated. Housewives complained and wanted local, state, and national officials to protect them from profi teering, hoarding, and speculation,..."

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6. The Farm and Ranch Front

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pp. 147-188

"By 1939 farmers in the Great Plains began to emerge from the Great Depression and the drought-stricken and dust-laden years of the 1930s. New Deal agricultural programs, particularly those of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (aaa) and the Commodity Credit Corporation, provided much-needed income for..."

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7. Agricultural Labor

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pp. 189-235

"World War II brought unprecedented prosperity to Great Plains farmers but also considerable uncertainty and problems regarding agricultural labor. By 1940 many young men and women were leaving the farms for high wages and regular hours in war related industries in the cities of the region. After 1940 thousands..."

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8. Military Affairs

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pp. 236-281

"The German invasion of Poland brought fear and anxiety to the people of the Great Plains. The memory of World War I, with the wanton sacrifice of lives by incompetent commanders, mud-filled trenches, and betrayed promises for peace and democracy, rekindled an old xenophobia. But it also caused many Great Plains residents to..."

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9. Internment

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pp. 282-311

"By the summer of 1940 fear based on the need for self-protection and patriotism anchored by racial prejudice led many Great Plains residents to restrict civil liberties and impose regulations on personal freedom that they would have rejected in less threatening..."

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10. Prisoner-of-War Camps

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pp. 312-346

"On July 26, 1943, Jimmie Don Morris, a boy in McLean, Texas, watched with excitement and anticipation as a troop train backed onto a siding at this Panhandle station. Other town residents had gathered as well, exhibiting uncommon interest and some anxiety as the crew unhooked the cars and the engine pulled away."

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11. Indians in Wartime

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pp. 347-372

"In September 1939 few Indians in the Great Plains considered the ramifications of Germany’s attack on Poland and the violent plunge of Europe into another world war. Instead, they struggled with chronic poverty, inadequate health care, and hopeless unemployment as well as education, credit, and land insuffi cient to enable..."

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12. War's End

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pp. 373-400

"The people of the Great Plains had anxiously awaited an invasion of Europe since December 1941, although some did so with apprehension. In January 1945 the Oklahoma City resident Eugene P. Graham, the secretary of the Oklahoma Bankers Association,..."

Appendix of Tables

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pp. 401-406

Notes

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pp. 407-454

Bibliography

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pp. 455-476

Index

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pp. 477-507


E-ISBN-13: 9780803223981
E-ISBN-10: 0803223986

Publication Year: 2008