OpenUW: A series of free courses presented by UW Educational Outreach
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 Part 1
Part One: From Neutrality to War
 Part 2
Part Two: The Home Front
 Part 3
Part Three: The U.S. Contribution to Victory
 Part 4
Part Four: Origins of the Cold War
World War II*


World War II


The Second World War ranks with the 1930s as a period of major political, economic, and social change in American history. Without question, war mobilization was responsible for ending the Great Depression. The task of fighting a world war not only promoted recovery, but further accelerated the growing influence of the federal government in American life, particularly in its regulation and management of the economy. The war also brought increased geographical mobility and new economic opportunities for organized labor, women, and minorities. Finally, the war brought a revolution in American foreign policy. Before the war, the United States had no formal alliances, no troops stationed on foreign soil, and a tiny defense budget. After 1945, largely as a result of the emerging "Cold War" with the Soviet Union, the United States actively sought to shape world affairs, entering into a series of defensive alliances with other nations around the globe and accepting as necessary a perpetual state of mobilization for war.

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Recommended Reading

The following is recommended reading for this OpenUW course:

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What You'll Learn

By the end of this OpenUW course, you will be able to

  • Characterize U.S. foreign policy between the world wars.
  • Describe how the U.S. moved from a policy of neutrality to one of involvement in the war.
  • Discuss the effects of World War II on the U.S. home front.
  • Describe U.S. military strategy in Europe and Asia.
  • Explain the roots of the Cold War.
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