Fair Deal/Containment Notes You notice that your book calls the

Fair Deal/Containment Notes
You notice that your book calls the section starting with this chapter “The American Age.” This chapter
marks another shift in America’s development.
As you know, one of the major stories so far has been America’s rapid growth in production and power. In
this and the following chapters, we will see two big themes. One is American economic dominance and its
effects. Going into WWII, America was already the leading economy in the world, although not by a huge
amount: there were several European nations in America’s league. But the two world wars change that
dramatically by hammering EVERY other advanced nation. Even though the period from the start of WWI
to the end of WWII (1914-1945) was overall not a great time for the American economy (America’s Great
Depression was worse than anyone else’s), by the end of WWII America emerged with a huge economic
advantage: in 1945 (the last year of the war), America produced HALF of the world’s manufactured goods.
This advantage would last some 20 years: by 1970 (near the end of the good times), America (with only
6% of the world’s population) produced AND consumed 2/3 of the world’s goods. There were a number of
factors in this, but large among them is that fact that because the other manufacturing nations had been so
hurt, America had a near-monopoly on manufacturing. The good times didn’t last forever, though: by the
1970s, the American economy found itself again struggling with problems. But until then, America enjoyed
decades of remarkable prosperity.
At the same time America began its decades of economic good times, the Soviet Union emerged as the
second most powerful nation in the world. Not as rich, but militarily a powerhouse, the USSR began to
expand communism in Europe and elsewhere. This was seen by America (and most western nations) as a
threat every bit as real as the Axis conquests of WWII, and the west united to combat the spread of
communism. But that united west contained the US and a large number of nations struggling to recover
from WWII. As a result, the US became the primary financier and the so-called “leader of the free world.”
The result is the Cold War: a 45-year long battle between the USSR-led communist world and the US-led
“free world” to expand their own influence and limit that of their rival. The Cold War would impact virtually
every aspect of American culture, shaping diplomacy and war, the economy, politics, social norms, even
art and literature. It led to a massive military build-up, bigger federal government, wars in Korea and
Vietnam, imperialism, the nuclear arms race, the space race, the Civil Rights movement, the popularity of
cowboy movies, and eventually the incredible cost helped bring an end to the decades of economic goodtimes that followed WWII.
It’s a big story spread over several chapters. It starts here with the origins of the Cold War, and that’s the
most important part of this chapter (see the questions below). At the same time, the textbook will discuss
President Truman’s domestic policies (called the Fair Deal), a policy that combined New Deal economics
with Civil Rights, but that ultimately failed. You should understand the basic outlines of the Fair Deal, but
not worry much about the details.
Key questions:
Define the Cold War: what was it, and what did it hope to do?
Define the Fair Deal: in general terms, what did Truman want?
Briefly define the Korean War: how did it start? How did it end?
Briefly define McCarthyism (aka the second Red Scare): why did it happen?
Lecture Outline
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