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Unformatted text preview: ->ARCHIVE 19<- • "The Good War"; A Diverse Nation in World War 11 Archive Overview DURING the 1930S, as ominous events were taking place in Europe and Asia, the American government pursued policies designed to keep the nation neutral. With the outbreak of war in 1939, however, the country began its long course toward in- volvement in yet another world conflict. When the Japanese at- tacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, a date that Franklin Roosevelt announced "will live in infamy," the nation went to war. "No matter how long it may take for us to overcome this premeditated invasion," Roosevelt said in his war message, "the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory." • World War II became known as "the good war," a characteri- zation that echoes strongly in our collective memory more than sixty years later. You may well have seen a film with this out- look recently, or you may have a relative who has given this sort ofpicture of the war. This archive allows you to explore the war and its characterization as "the good war." First, examine the sources to discover the various ways in which diverse Americans reacted to, and participated in, the war at home and abroad. How were they mobilized to support the war, and in what ways did they participate in the national effort? How did race, gender, and class shape the war experience ofdifferent Americans, what they did in the war, and how they felt about it? What were the shared experiences, and what were the distinctive ones? Your second task addresses the larger question: What was "good" about the war, and for whom was it "good"? To what extent did different Americans share equally in the burdens and benefits ofWorld WarII? Placing the Sources in Context DURING the 1930S, events both in Asia and in Europe seemed to point toward the pOSSibility of another world war. In the Far East, Japan, a powerful and ambitious nation in need ofraw ma- terials, began a decade of expansion and conquest on the Asian mainland. Manchuria was taken over by Japan in 1931, and six years later Japan began a full-scale invasion of China. Japanese aggression troubled the American leadership because the United States had long seen itself as China's best friend and be- cause Japanese expansion might threaten the Philippines, which had become an American possession during the Span- ish-American War (see Archive 14). In Europe, the rise of fascism upset the political arrange- ments established at the end of world War I and potentially threatened the survival of democracy there. The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini successfully defied the League of Nations with his conquest of Ethiopia in 1935, while, under the leader- ship ofAdolf Hitler, Germany began to rearm in violation ofthe Treaty of Versailles. In 1938, Germany annexed Austria and oc- cupied part of Czechoslovakia. When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, Europe's two leading democracies, Britain and France, de- clared war on Germany. In the first years of the war, the Allied clared war on Germany....
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This note was uploaded on 10/24/2010 for the course HIST 337 taught by Professor Dr.marcdluger during the Fall '10 term at Illinois Tech.
- Fall '10