Re: How was America's experience of WW II different?

David Kennedy: Well the easiest way to answer the question of how our participation in that war was different, I think is . . . This is a crude answer, but I think it gets at the essence of it. If you look at the other societies that were major participants in this war . . . let’s take the Soviet Union, our ally. Soviet Union lost about 24 million people in the war, of which about 16 million were civilians. The United States lost 405,399 military dead in all branches of service. Not a trivial number, and I don’t mean to make light of it. And in the 48 continental states – the states that had a star on the flag in the World War II era – the civilian death total of persons whose deaths were directly attributable to enemy action was exactly six people, all of whom died together, oddly enough, in the very improbable place of a mountainside near Bly, Oregon, which is in South Central Oregon . . . almost in California. Those numbers themselves tell us a very large story about who actually paid the greatest price in blood and treasure to achieve the results that we got in 1945. And the incidents of the war’s destructive impact on other societies was just geometrically greater than it was on the United States. So we’re the only society that fought World War II that managed to improve its civilian standard of living even while waging a war. And indeed in the entire history of warfare, there are very few societies that managed to wage protracted, large scale, deeply mobilized wars of attrition like we did in World War II and at the same time lift the civilian standards of living. So we fought a very peculiar kind of a war, just as we’ve had a very peculiar kind of history.

Recorded on: 7/4/07

 

We fought a very different war than every other belligerent country.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Videos
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less