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"A magisterial account of our time by a distinguished historian."—Walter LaFeber, prize-winning author of The Clash
Global change has accelerated at an unprecedented pace in the last half-century. The trajectory of change points in different directions, with the world growing at once more interconnected and more fragmented. Commerce and migrations, television and the World Wide Web suggest a story of growing interconnection, while at the same time the proliferation of nation-states and the divisions rooted in religion, race, and material inequality tell of separation and conflict. David Reynolds’s brilliant history captures both themes and grounds them vividly in the people and events of the last fifty years. Reynolds captures the great political events: the Cold War, the Chinese revolution, independence movements, Vietnam, and the fall of the Soviet Union, and broader developments: economic and population growth, the spread of cities, vast technological change, genetic manipulation, and the creation of a digital world. Carefully avoiding an encyclopedic approach, Reynolds integrates these themes into a narrative with authority, vision, and style. A volume in the Global Century series, books by outstanding scholars on the history of the world in the twentieth century—general editor, Paul Kennedy.
The Mushroom Cloud and the Iron Curtain
The Cover Story That Never Was
At the end of July 1945, with Germany defeated and Japan encircled, the staff of Time magazine in New York began preparing a cover story about the weapon that had won the war. Tracing the development of radar took them back to decisive moments in the conflict—gaining early warning of German air raids in the Battle of Britain in 1940-1941, locating U-boats in the Atlantic in 1942-1943, identifying bombing targets in cloud-covered France and Germany in 1944-1945. In the 1930s, many governments had experimented with RAdio Detection And Ranging—the term was adopted by the U.S. Navy in late 1940—transmitting a pulsating radio wave and using the echo to calculate location and distance. But the decisive combination was Anglo-American. The Battle of Britain had been won with waves of more than one meter, using cumbersome "bedspring" antennae. In the autumn of 1940, the British shared their pioneering research on microwave radar (nearer the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum), which permitted reception by small and mobile "bowls." In a massive program centered on a new radiation laboratory (or RadLab) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Pentagon developed systems for use in ships and planes, as well as in early-warning defenses. After the war, radar had multitudinous civilian applications, ranging from microwave ovens and radio astronomy to systems for air traffic control. Equally important, hundreds of scientists had been divertedfrom nuclear and particle physics—the sexy subjects of the 1930s—and "exposed" to microwaves. Out of this came, directly, the transistor—one of the most important innovations of the last half-century. And without radar, the development of the computer would have been very different.
The war saw other notable innovations. Hitler expended vast resources on what he judged the potential winning weapon—long-range rockets. The V2s did not save the Third Reich, but these weapons (and their designers) were some of the most valuable booty that the superpowers looted in 1945. In them we find the origins of the space race of the cold war. Another development was the jet engine. Both the British and the Germans had jet fighters operational by the spring of 1944. When we remember that pistonengine monoplane fighters were novel at the beginning of the war in 1939, we can see again how the conflict accelerated technological change—destruction as the mother of invention.
Yet war was about saving life as well as destroying it. Many techniques of military medicine would also have vast civilian applications. Penicillin had been isolated and tested in Britain in the late 1930s. In the last two years of the war the Americans and British had manufactured enough of it for systematic use at the battlefronts, cutting fatalities by up to 15 percent. By setting one microbe against another in this way, they began the antibiotic revolution. And so we could go on. Deaths caused by the explosion of a ship carrying mustard gas at the Italian port of Bari in December 1943 stimulated research into chemotherapy for cancers; a few months later, the use of the insecticide DDT in the Naples typhus epidemic launched the "miracle dust" that would help eliminate malaria.
In these and many other ways, the appliance of science helped turn the war and would shape the peace. I shall return to some of these technologies, especially electronics, in Chapter 14. But in the end, none of them figured in Time magazine's cover story on the war's winning weapon. In its issue of August 20, 1945, a highly condensed account of radar, plus the graphics originally commissioned for the cover, began on page 78. Instead, Time featured "an event so much more enormous that, relative to it, the war itself shrank to minor significance." Time called it simply "The Bomb."
In vain, RadLab veterans insisted the bomb had only ended the war, radar had won it. In vain, they argued that their program had cost up to 50 percent more, with a price tag of some $3 billion. To no avail. The world war had ended with an atomic bang, not an electronic whimper. By the end of 1945, 140,000 inhabitants of Hiroshima had died from incineration or radiation; likewise another 70,000 in the city of Nagasaki. And it had ended suddenly. Instead of months of fighting to capture the Japanese home islands, the bombs dropped on August 6 and 9 were followed on August 15 by the emperor's announcement of surrender. (Few Americans tried to factor in the impact of the Soviet declaration of war on the 8th.) Unlike that of radar, the power of the bomb was spectacularly visible. A brilliant fireball surged upward—white, orange, red, purple. Then it became streaked with black from the debris of what it had incinerated, before cooling into clouds as it hit the upper atmosphere to form its ethereal dome (Plate 1). The very term "mushroom cloud," quickly a commonplace, suggested a natural event rather than man-made destruction. With pictures of the dead and maimed suppressed by U.S. military censors, and the enormity of radiation sickness not yet grasped, the enduring image of 1945 was one of awesome, revolutionary power—monopolized by the United States. On hearing of Hiroshima, President Harry Truman exclaimed, "This is the greatest thing in history."
So the creative potential of much wartime science was eclipsed by the destructive power of the bomb. In many ways, what followed was indeed the atomic age, whose unfolding will preoccupy us in subsequent chapters. But although other science seemed almost a footnote to history (and will be noted as such at places in this chapter), it is a fundamental contention of this book that we shall misunderstand much of the last half-century if we focus on the nuclear theme. Not only the world that emerged from the cold war, but the cold war itself, were legacies of radar as much as the bomb.
That is to anticipate, however. The world was fixated on the bomb in 1945, partly because it seemed to sum up the ferocious power of modern warfare. The European analogue of Hiroshima was Berlin—Germany's capital and industrial heart, arguably the cultural center of Europe in the 1920s—now battered into rubble by British and American bombers and by Russian tanks and artillery (Plate 2). In the city center, 60 percent of the housing had been destroyed. Only seven thousand trees out of two hundred thousand remained standing in the vast Tiergarten park. Hunger and misery were the lot of citizens who, five years before, had cheered their soldiers home through the Brandenburg Gate after a six-week campaign to crush France.
As at Hiroshima, foreign visitors were overwhelmed by an almost abstract sense of history. Hitler had boasted his empire would last for a thousand years. Now Berlin was "utter wasteland," wrote the American journalist William Shirer, adding "I don't think there has ever been such destruction on such a scale." The British author Stephen Spender predicted that the ruined Reichstag and Chancellery would be attracting sightseers for the next five hundred years—modern equivalents of the Colosseum at Rome. Alfred Döblin, author of a famous 1929 novel entitled Berlin Alexanderplatz, was also sobered by what he now saw: "You need to sit among the ruins for a long time, to let them get to you, and experience the pain and the judgment fully."
Hiroshima and Berlin. The end of two empires—with a vengeance. Graphic evidence that war had given way to peace. Grim testimony to humanity's new technological powers. In time, the ruins would be rebuilt. But Japan had lost its independence. And Europe, especially Germany, was becoming partitioned by what Winston Churchill called the Iron Curtain. The division of Europe by two new "superpowers" is the theme of this chapter; the reactions of the Europeans will be considered more fully in Chapter 4.
The War and the Superpowers
Measured on the scale of human history, the greatest novelty of the war was indeed the scale of destruction. From the Seine to the Danube, the heartland of continental Europe had been ravaged. A few cities escaped—notably Paris, Rome, and Prague—but urban Germany was in ruins, ports from Rotterdam to Piraeus were choked with rubble, and everywhere bridges, roads and railways were wrecked. The Soviet Union had suffered even more severely, losing 30 percent of its prewar capital stock. Six million buildings were destroyed, and twenty-five million Soviet people rendered homeless. Even Britain, which was never occupied by the enemy, lost about one-quarter of its national wealth. Across Asia the pattern was similar. Even before dropping the atomic bombs, the Americans had turned many of Japan's wooden cities into firebombed wasteland, particularly the area around Tokyo and Yokohama. In China, the war had destroyed most of the industrial plant of Manchuria; Japan's decision to blow up the dikes along the Yellow River had flooded three million acres of farmland. For all these countries, the immediate postwar years would be preoccupied with rebuilding and economic recovery.
On the other hand, some parts of the world were largely unscarred, including the Near East, most of Africa south of the Sahara, and the Western Hemisphere. It was particularly significant that the continental United States, unique among the major belligerents, was untouched by occupation or even bombing, apart from a handful of Japanese incendiaries. In fact, the war pulled the country out of its long depression, almost doubling the gross national product. Remarkably, the United States enjoyed guns and butter—producing more aircraft than Germany and Japan combined but also increasing its output of textiles and alcoholic drinks by 50 percent. To quote the historian Mark Left, "War is hell. But for millions of Americans on the booming home front, World War II was also a hell of a war." The contrast between America's new wealth and the enforced poverty of its former enemies and allies was of profound importance in the first postwar decade.
The human cost was even more appalling. Perhaps sixty million soldiers and civilians had lost their lives (compared with ten million in the fighting of 1914-1918). Again the Americans suffered least—three hundred thousand dead (fewer even than Britain's four hundred thousand) constituted less than 0.25 percent of the prewar population. By comparison, war-induced famines took the lives of more than a million in Bengal in 1943 and another million in Vietnam two years later. Of the dead, at least twenty-five million came from the Soviet Union, and perhaps another fifteen million were Chinese—although neither estimate can be precise. The magnitude of Russian and Chinese losses was little known at the time, though, as we shall see, they must be taken seriously if we wish to understand the meaning and consequences of the war. What made more impact in 1945 was the extermination of nearly all the Jews of Europe, between five and six million people, half of them from Poland. Of these, about 60 percent had died in the Nazi camps, one million in Auschwitz alone. The liberation of these camps in 1945, filmed extensively by Allied correspondents, gave a new moral meaning to the war. At Dachau, a nauseated American lieutenant machine-gunned 346 SS guards around the rotting corpses of the inmates. Incensed Allied commanders forced Germans from nearby towns to inspect the results. Under the Third Reich, evil had become domesticated, made "banal" in the term popularized by the scholar Hannah Arendt. The postwar world would never transcend that memory. And the provision of a safe homeland for the Jews became a major issue in international relations.
Globally, the conflict revolved around three epic struggles. One was between Germany and Russia over living space in Eastern Europe in 1941-1945. This was given added horror by Nazi policies of racial extermination against the Slavic Untermenschen. In the three-year siege of Leningrad alone, Russian deaths exceeded those of America and Britain combined for the whole war. The turning point of this struggle was the battle for Stalingrad, for which 800,000 Germans and 1.2 million Russians died. Although English-language histories of the war still concentrate on themes such as the Second Front debate and the Mediterranean campaign, their relative insignificance is suggested by the fact that between June 1941 and June 1944 (from the German invasion of Russia to the Allied landings in Normandy), 93 percent of the German Army's battle casualties were inflicted by the Soviets. The fact that the Anglo-American invasion of France was delayed until 1944 helped ensure that the war would end with the USSR occupying much of Eastern Europe. That was a given of the postwar world.
The second main axis of World War II was a three-cornered struggle for mastery of China, involving Japan, the Chinese Nationalists, and the Chinese communists. This dated back to the breakup of the Qing dynasty in 1911 and the establishment of Japan's empire on the Asian mainland around the beginning of the twentieth century. But in its most recent phase, it began with the Japanese conquest of Manchuria in 1931 and of much of northeast China in 1937-1938. The Russians were actively involved in 1938-1939 and again in August 1945. After 1940, Japan's attention turned to Southeast Asia and then the Pacific, but at least one-third of its troops remained stuck in the China "quagmire." This was a conflict that none of the belligerents could win, even though the Japanese summer offensive of 1944 decimated Nationalist forces in the south. During this time, Nationalists and communists toned down their civil war, but from base areas in, respectively, southern and northcentral China, they rebuilt their strength. After Japan's surrender in August 1945, they resumed their struggle for mastery of China. The outcome will be examined in Chapter 2.
In both of these conflicts, the British played a supporting role. Their main contribution to the outcome of the European war (a critical one) had been the refusal to surrender in 1940. This preserved Britain as a vital base for the bombing and eventual invasion of northwest Europe. In Asia they would have found it hard to recover the colonies they had lost in Japan's Pacific blitzkrieg of 1941-1942 but for the sudden Japanese capitulation in 1945. This enabled them to make a quick return to Malaya and Hong Kong and to piggy-back the French and Dutch into their lost territories in Southeast Asia. The Europeans therefore remained imperial powers after the war, as we shall see in Chapters 2 and 3.
The American contribution to the war came later than Britain's and cost less, but it was ultimately more important. In Asia, it constituted the third of the major global conflicts—the Pacific War (or taiheiyo senso) in Japanese terminology, to distinguish it from the Greater East Asian War (toa senso) centered on China. The United States was drawn into the conflict in December 1941 because its fleet and its territories of Hawaii and the Philippines (both relics of America's brief flurry of formal imperialism in 1898) blocked Japan's expansion. The humiliations America suffered in 1941-1942, particularly the attack on Pearl Harbor, inspired a war effort that eventually drove the Japanese back across the Pacific and ended with the United States dominating the occupation of Japan itself in 1945.
America's serious role in the European conflict began even later, with the invasion of France in June 1944. Until then, the British were the senior partner in their alliance against Germany and Italy. But in the last months of the war, American manpower became predominant in Western Europe, amounting to 60 percent of Allied troops there by the end of the war. And in both theaters, America's vast economic power was of critical importance, whether in the bombing of Germany and Japan or in material aid to Russia, China, and particularly Britain under Lend-Lease. By 1943-1944, for instance, virtually all Britain's raw material imports and a quarter of its military equipment came from the United States, while, ironically, U.S. trucks, jeeps and aircraft helped accelerate the Red Army's drive across Eastern Europe in 1944-1945. By this time, however, American troops were deep into Western Europe as well. When the European war ended in May 1945, Americans and Russians eyed each other over the ruins of Hitler's Reich.
The dynamics of war shaped the patterns of peace. The events of 1941-1945 had created or at least mobilized two new "superpowers"—the word was coined in 1944 by the American political scientist William T. R. Fox to denote states with "great power plus great mobility of power." At the end of the war, the Soviet Union and the United States had armed forces about 12 million strong. Yet the nature of their power was very different. The Soviet Union was a continuation of the old tsarist empire. Although its economy had made great strides since Stalin's forced industrialization of the late 1920s, its strength rested on vast resources of territory, raw materials, and manpower. It was not, for instance, a significant naval power, and its air force was mainly employed in support of land operations. In contrast, America boasted the world's greatest navy and air force, backed by an economy that produced half the world's manufactured goods using technology that was far in advance of Russia's. What enabled the Soviet Union to compete, at least in the short-term, was its "command economy," whereby the government was able to divert a large proportion of the country's resources into military activity. Stalin's prime postwar objective in this area was to break America's monopoly on the atomic bomb. "Hiroshima has shaken the world. The balance has been destroyed," he reportedly exclaimed on hearing the news. The Soviets' hitherto low-key atomic project was given top priority and placed under the personal direction of Lavrenti Beria, the chief of the secret police. Even if America had been willing to share the atomic secret (which it wasn't), Stalin would have wanted his own bomb—the ultimate, both as weapon and status symbol.
The Soviet Union forged by Lenin and, after his death in 1924, by Stalin was, according to its constitution, a voluntary union of fifteen equal republics. Yet in practice, Soviet federalism was very different from that of the United States. It was a concession by Lenin and Stalin to the fact that they ruled a multinational empire of some two hundred million people (in 1940) from one hundred national groups and covering nearly nine million square miles, one-sixth of the earth's surface. This made it three times as large as the United States. What held it together was central domination. That domination was partly national. In 1950, 57 percent of the population was Russian; the Russian republic, which included the whole of Siberia across to the Pacific, accounted for most of the country's industry and key raw materials. Even the Ukraine, a major grain-producing area with 20 percent of the population, could not compare.
Even more important than Russian predominance was the one-party state. The Bolshevik coup in 1917 had not been followed by world revolution, but its leaders had survived a brutal civil war and they consolidated socialism in one country. Territorially, the Communist party spread down to three thousand urban and rural districts; there were also some two hundred thousand functional organizations in farms and factories, places of education and social institutions. The party was the government; society was subsumed in the state. The supreme organ of the party was its political bureau (Politburo), presided over by the general secretary. Since 1922, that post had been held by Josef Stalin.
Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (as he was born in 1879) seemed an unprepossessing autocrat. He was only five feet, four inches tall, and lacked charisma or oratorical skill. A childhood injury had left him with a withered left arm; his face was pockmarked and blotchy from smallpox contracted at the age of six. He came from a squalid town in rural Georgia, the only surviving son of a tyrannical father and a devoted mother, and left home in 1901 to join the revolutionary underground. He spent the next sixteen years on the run, in and out of tsarist prisons. This early life crystallized his isolated, suspicious, and brutal nature—the "man of steel" in his revolutionary pseudonym. But Stalin also had a methodical mind and an encyclopedic memory. Equally important, he was an accomplished actor. In the 1920s, he turned the paper-pushing post of party general secretary into the hub of a vast patronage network that enabled him to supplant and destroy the cosmopolitan sophisticates who thought of him as a coarse backroom boy. Many have judged that Stalin was clinically paranoid—the first to do so, a distinguished Russian neuropathologist in 1927, died a few days later! On one level, Stalin's purges were desperate efforts to hang on to power against real and imagined enemies. But the personal blurred into the political. "Stalin sought not simply power, but revolutionary power." He saw himself as Lenin's successor, continuing and securing the tenuous revolution. In his view, Russia remained in a state of civil war during the 1920s and 1930s, necessitating the extermination of class enemies in the peasantry, the party, or the army. Throughout that period, he believed Russia was also in external danger: hence the need to impose breakneck industrial revolution regardless of the human cost.
Even so, Hitler's invasion in June 1941 was nearly disastrous. The country was ill prepared indeed, Stalin's purges had decimated the military leadership—and in the early days of the invasion Stalin was psychologically and politically near to collapse. The German surrender at Stalingrad in February 1943 was therefore a personal as well as a national turning point, and victory in 1945 secured his regime completely. The great parades in Red Square, with captured German standards being piled beneath his feet at the base of the Lenin mausoleum, were a deliberate echo of Tsar Alexander's victory over Napoleon.
Although Stalin lived a fairly simple existence by the standard of dictators, the cult of personality now flourished, with statues, poems, and songs dedicated to him. Possible rivals in public esteem were quickly removed. For instance, Marshal Georgii Zhukov, the defender of Moscow and the conqueror of Berlin, was packed off to commands in Odessa and then the Urals. Moreover, 1945 vindicated and entrenched the Stalinist elite as a whole. Although there were more purges, especially in Leningrad in 1948-1949, none matched the prewar horrors. The war years had taken their toll on Stalin's health, and autumn vacations on the Black Sea lengthened to three months in his final years. He was less involved in domestic matters—giving party, security forces, and local elites more leeway. Yet the result of this was not reform but atrophy—"mummified dogmas" enshrining "absolute bureaucracy," to quote one of his biographers. As we shall see, Stalin's successors, notably Khrushchev and Gorbachev, would struggle with reform. But they were all beneficiaries of Stalinism. The system had a life of its own.
What did victory mean for the "average" Soviet citizen? There was undoubtedly pride in the achievement, which official propaganda cultivated assiduously, but the overwhelming emotions, however, must have been relief and sadness. The eternal flames burning not only beneath the Kremlin wall but in towns and villages across the western USSR bore silent witness to the grief that few families had escaped. European Russia, the Ukraine and Belorussia had been the main battlegrounds, and here the task of recovery was enormous. Some cities were rebuilt rapidly, but these were usually historic centers. By 1956, for instance, Kiev, capital of the Ukraine, had been wholly restored, but the city of Kremenchug, two hundred miles southeast, was still in ruins. The blueprint for recovery was the five-year plan promulgated in March 1946. Like previous plans, this concentrated on transport and heavy industry (particularly related to defense). In coal, steel, and electricity, the plan more than achieved its aim of exceeding prewar outputs by 1950. As before, the main casualty was agriculture. In 1946, the grain harvest was 20 percent down from the previous year, causing serious food shortages. Although this crisis was partly due to severe drought, it also reflected official priorities. In the race to rebuild industry, villages were starved of manpower, equipment, and building materials. True to form, Stalin also struck back at peasant independence by reasserting the prewar dominance of the inefficient collective farms and, from 1950, encouraging their amalgamation into larger units. In 1952, agricultural production had still not returned to the levels of 1940. The peasants were also the main victims of Stalin's currency reform of December 1947, when coins were exchanged at one-tenth of their face value, wiping out many people's hoarded savings. This was, admittedly, part of a general realignment of prices and wages to accompany the end of rationing—a welcome change—but, for most Soviet citizens, the last years of Stalin were a time of continued hardship.
Life in the United States could hardly have been more different. Whereas Soviet federalism was a token concession from the top down, American federalism was a living reality emanating from the bottom up. The individual states had created the Union after their break with Britain in 1776, but this was mainly to satisfy basic common interests in defense and foreign policy. The federal government grew in authority over the next century and a half, particularly during the Civil War of 1861-1865, which held the Union together at the cost of 620,000 dead, but central authority remained weak. American democracy was an expression of this local self-government. By the 1830s, the elective principle had become the norm for most governmental offices, including the U.S. presidency. Abhorrence of centralized power was evident in Washington itself, where the Founding Fathers had deliberately given Congress substantial authority to check the president, through consent to appropriations and appointments. Although a nationwide party system provided some political coordination, the fact that the president and Congress were elected separately meant that the two branches of government might be in opposite political hands. This was the case in 1947-1948, when the Republicans controlled the Congress while a Democrat, Harry S. Truman, resided in the White House. Even when this bifurcation did not occur, as during the Democratic hegemony of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), Congressmen kept their eyes on the local interest groups that ensured their election, rather than following presidential preferences.
The aim of democratic localism was to keep government off people's backs and let them make their own decisions, particularly economic. With cheap land generally available, a quarter of the population still lived on farms in the 1930s, and most whites owned their freeholds. Others ran small businesses in small towns. Even the growing urban labor force was relatively prosperous: unlike in Europe, socialism enjoyed very little appeal in the United States. This was partly a reflection of American living standards, and partly because class consciousness was less potent than ethnic consciousness in the big cities of the early twentieth century. The federal structure and the democratic franchise also helped, for local concentrations of immigrants were able to wrest political power from the old "Anglo-Saxon" elites, as in Chicago or Boston. The United States proved much more successful than the Soviet Union in assimilating its multinational population and turning them into "Americans."
If they were white, that is. The country had been created through extermination of its original native peoples and, particularly in the Southeast, through exploitation of the black population. Although freed from slavery in 1863 (two years after the tsarist government emancipated Russia's serfs), blacks remained second-class citizens, often working in serflike conditions on southern farms and denied civil and political rights by a network of "Jim Crow" laws and customs. Here the principle of democratic localism meant that the federal government turned a blind eye to breaches of the Constitution. In the cities of the North, blacks usually lived in segregated areas with inferior jobs, housing, and schools. By global standards their poverty was relative: in the 1940s the per capita income of Harlem, New York's black ghetto, ranked with that of the top five nations of the world. But what mattered to most blacks were comparisons with their white American neighbors. By the 1940s these second-class black citizens constituted 10 per cent of the population. Although American liberal democracy had dealt relatively successfully with ethnicity, it had not even addressed "the persistent legacy of the original crime of slavery."
"Race" was one area in which American reality diverged markedly from national ideology. Another was the country's political economy, which was not exactly the "free enterprise" lauded by classical liberalism. The industrial revolution of the late nineteenth century had been preeminently a revolution of scale. The United States was a vast, tariff-free common market, with a well-developed railroad network. Around 1900, a succession of mergers in transport, distribution, and eventually production brought the levers of economic power into a few hands. When titans such as J. P. Morgan or Andrew Carnegie then passed from the scene, capitalism lost its personal character, and these large firms were run by professional managers. But business remained big. In 1947 the two hundred largest industrial companies in the United States accounted for almost half of corporate assets and 30 percent of the value added in manufacturing.
By this time, big business had been reinforced by big government as a consequence of the depression and the war. Between 1929 and 1933 unemployment soared from 3 percent of the work force to 25 percent, while manufacturing output collapsed by one-third. Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs tried to stimulate demand and provide work and relief for the distressed through increased government spending. The philosophy behind this was belatedly provided by the British economist John Maynard Keynes. Between 1933 and 1939, federal expenditure tripled, and Roosevelt's critics charged that he was turning America into a communist state. But the New Deal was as nothing compared with World War II. In 1939, federal expenditure was $9 million; it had increased tenfold by 1945. And war spending finally cured the depression, pulling unemployment down from 14 percent in 1940 to less than 2 percent in 1943 as the labor force grew by ten million. Many Americans saw all this as vindicating American liberal capitalism. According to the Saturday Evening Post: "If Free Enterprise had not flourished here, the cause of world freedom might now be lost for centuries." In fact, most of the war contracts were funneled through big business, with one hundred corporations receiving two-thirds of the money. And most of the decline in unemployment was due to the draft, as the government pulled the equivalent of 22 percent of the prewar work force into the armed forces. The war economy was not so much a triumph of free enterprise as the result of big business being bankrolled by big government.
Americans ended the war with a prodigious sense of achievement, in marked contrast to the gloom and self-doubt of the depression. "The Great Republic has come into its own," declared the New York Herald Tribune. "It stands first among the peoples of the earth." In the first full peacetime year of 1946, federal spending still amounted to $62 billion, or 30 percent of GNP. (In 1929, the proportion was only 3 percent.) But the pressures to "get back to normal" were intense. Congress wanted a return to low, balanced budgets, and families clamored to see the soldiers back home. Between June 1945 and June 1947 the armed forces fell from 12 million to 1.5 million, even though Congress reluctantly maintained the draft. The Truman Administration worried first about a postwar slump, then about the inflationary consequences of pent-up consumer demand. Either way, conversion to a postwar economy would be difficult.
The "GI Bill of Rights," adopted in 1944, was one answer—subsidizing veterans to complete their education rather than flood the job market and probably boost the unemployment figures. But the whole role of government was in question once again. Although America's military-industrial complex was born in World War II, it could easily have been stifled at birth. The federal government might have reverted mainly to domestic management, supplemented perhaps by a greater role in promoting international trade and monetary relations. There was nothing inevitable about "a postwar government looking like the wartime government, with the military establishment transcendent and military-security concerns dominant." When in 1941 Roosevelt reluctantly approved plans for the army's new headquarters in Arlington, Virginia—a mile in circumference and the largest building in the world—he hoped that after the war the Pentagon could be used for storage. That it was not, that the military-industrial complex dominated postwar American life, was largely the result of the cold war.
|List of Maps||xiv|
|List of Illustrations||xv|
|1||The Mushroom Cloud and the Iron Curtain||9|
|The Cover Story That Never Was||9|
|The War and the Superpowers||12|
|From Cold Peace to Cold War||21|
|Two Blocs, Two Germanies, Two Bombs||30|
|2||Communist Revolutions. Asian Style||37|
|Japan Under U.S. Occupation||39|
|China and the Endgame of Civil War||42|
|Korea: The Cold War Turns Hot||46|
|Consolidating Unity and Revolution in China||54|
|Nationalism and Communism in Southeast Asia||58|
|The Limits of "Independence"||65|
|3||Legacies of Empire||67|
|The Partition of India||68|
|Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples||76|
|The Middle East after Britain and France||80|
|Africa and the Persistence of Imperialism||88|
|The "White Commonwealth" Between Britain and America||98|
|Latin America: "Our" Hemisphere and "Their" Island||102|
|4||Two Europes, Two Germanies||108|
|The Socialist Transformation of Eastern Europe||109|
|Germany: East and West||117|
|Western Europe: Captealism, Welfare, and Integration||122|
|The Bomb and the Wall||131|
|5||Cities and Consumers||136|
|Births and Deaths||137|
|Cities and Buildings||144|
|Suburbs and Automobiles||154|
|The Culture of Consumption||157|
|6||Eyeball to Eyeball, Shoulder to Shoulder||166|
|Eisenhower, Khrushchev, and the Space Race||167|
|Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Cuba||175|
|De Gaulle and the Travails of Western Europe||182|
|Dubcek and the Taming of Eastern Europe||194|
|7||Color, Creed, and Coups||200|
|The Politics of Race in Black and White||201|
|Ethnicity and Conflict in Black Africa||213|
|Development and the Military in Latin America||219|
|Christianity Between Church and State||226|
|Holy War in the Middle East||234|
|Politics, Religion, and Nationalism in South Asia||242|
|8||East Wind, West Wind||249|
|The Great Leap and the Cultural Revolution||250|
|Southeast Asia and Indonesia's Turning Point||261|
|America's Anguish, Vietnam's Tragedy||271|
|The Vietnam War and America's Allies||286|
|9||Cultures and Families||289|
|The Consumption of Culture||290|
|Women on the Move||308|
|10||Superpower Detente. Communist Confrontation||322|
|A New Strategic Triangle: America, Russia, China||323|
|West Germany Looks East||333|
|Western Europe Looks North and South||338|
|America in Retreat, Detente in Decline||347|
|New Indochina Wars--Communist Against Communist||356|
|Afghanistan, the Olympics, and the Demise of Detente||362|
|11||Israel, Oil, and Islam||369|
|October 1973: Arab Gamble, Superpower Crisis||370|
|Partial Peace: Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinians||376|
|The Gulf States and the Oil Boom||382|
|The Iranian Revolution and Islamic Resurgence||390|
|12||Capitalist Revolutions, Asian Style||403|
|The West and Stagflation||404|
|The Japanese "Miracle"||411|
|The Asian Tigers||420|
|The Tiger Cubs||427|
|The Chinese Dragon||435|
|The Indian Elephant||441|
|13||Challenges for the West||452|
|Thatcherism, Reaganomics, and the Crisis of Capitalism||453|
|Latin America: Debt, Democracy, and Revolution||459|
|Sub-Saharan Africa: The Collapse of the Stave||471|
|The "New Cold War" and Transatlantic Turmoil||481|
|14||Chips and Genes||494|
|Science, Business, and Government||495|
|Telecommunications and the Satellite Revolution||498|
|Computers and the Electronics Revolution||506|
|The "Information Society" and International Rivalbies||515|
|Molecular Biology and the Revolution in Genetics||519|
|Nuclear Power and the Environmental Counterrevolution||527|
|15||The Crisis of Communism||539|
|Gorbachev and the "New Thinking"||540|
|The European Revolutions of 1989||550|
|German Unification and European Union||561|
|The Chinese Exception||576|
|16||States, Wealth, and Order after the Cold War||586|
|Iraq, Israel, and the Search for Peace in the Middle East||587|
|Poverty and Despotism in Sub-Saharan Africa||598|
|Latin America: Opening Up Economies, States, and Region||609|
|Postcommunism and the Redefinition of Europe||617|
|The Crisis of "Asian Values"?||630|
|17||Goods and Values||644|
|Solitary Superpower, Anxious Americans||645|
|"Globalization" and Its Discontents||650|
|Faith and Doubt||657|
Posted May 24, 2010
No text was provided for this review.