Proposition: Transformations did not just happen, they flowed from strategy, a particular kind of war
Philip Roth: American Pastoral: This was the moment of the greatest collective inebriation in history. Everything was right, confident, prospering, when it had been so bad just years before.
Line in a speech by Churchill in August of 1945, when he said in parliament, WWII would mean “The United States stand at this moment at the summit of the world.”
How improbable in 1944 when in 1940 45% of white households, and 95% black households were impoverished; when 17% unemployment was true (double digits never happened again except for 1981) and we were isolated for so long before WWII, including exclusion of so many potential immigrants, economically protectionist: a society trying to cut itself off from the world somehow became the world’s great leader in a short span of time
The “one-thing-after-another” explanation is wrong in describing how we fought WWII
As of Dec. 1941, it was not clear how we would fight WWII
Hitler said after Pearl Harbor: Now it is impossible for us to lose this war, because we now have an ally who has never been vanquished in 3000 years.
Churchill said: so the US was in the war, up to the neck, so I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.
foreign minister Von Ribbentrop 12/41: we have just one year to cut Russia off from her military supplies. If we don’t succeed, and the US supplies combine with Russia’s manpower, we will lose
Admiral Yamamoto 9/40 (planned Pearl Harbor and Midway): if I am told to fight, regardless of the consequences, I will run wild for the first 6-12 months, but not the next two years
Donald Nelson (had been CEO of Sears), the War Production Board director, aided by the Kuznetz, if the mobilization went forward at that pace, the feasibility would be impossible if standard of living among civilians stayed low
Target goals of the Victory Program by Alfred Wiedemeyer, who makes detailed blueprint of how much they’d need to make
Only in the US did the civilian economy grow during the war (15%)
Only in America: Macy’s was looking for a date in 1944 for a nationwide sale and they decided Dec. 7 a time of peak fighting, and Macy’s had higher volume of sales than any other day in their history up to that point
The government wanted to use the war to improve the economy