The Great Plains during World War II


The Great Plains during World War II

R. Douglas Hurt

528 pages
24 illustrations, 1 appendix


July 2010


$28.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

After World War II, the pivotal event in twentieth-century American history, life both at home and abroad seemed more complex and more dangerous than ever before. The political, economic, and social changes wrought by the war, such as the centralization and regulation of economic affairs by the federal government, new roles for women and minorities in American life, and the world leadership of the United States, remained in place after the soldiers and sailors returned home.
Although the impact of World War II was not as transformative for the Great Plains as it was for other areas of the United States, it was still significant and tumultuous. Emphasizing the region’s social and economic history, The Great Plains during World War II is the first book to examine the effects of the war on the region and the responses of its residents. Beginning with the isolationist debate that preceded the war, R. Douglas Hurt traces the residents’ changing view of the European conflict and its direct impact on the plains. Hurt argues that the people of the Great Plains based their patriotic response to the war effort on the concept of comparative sacrifice. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources, this compelling and frank history brings to life the voices and experiences of the residents of the Great Plains in recounting the story of the daily concerns of ordinary people that have become part of the nation’s history of this seminal event.

Author Bio

R. Douglas Hurt is a professor and head of the Department of History at Purdue University. He is the author of many books, including The Indian Frontier, 1763–1846 and Problems of Plenty: The American Farmer in the Twentieth Century.


"Hurt's widely researched and detailed study does for the Plains what Gerald Nash's World War II and the West (1990) did for the Rocky Mountain region and the West Coast. . . . The Great Plains and World War II is an important, interesting study that will be a valuable reference for years to come."—Virgil W. Dean, Journal of American History

"This is a much-needed addition not only to Great Plains historiography but also to the vast literature on the U.S. during World War II. While there are many books on the Plains during the "Dirty Thirties", this is the first that examines the region's history in the Warring Forties."—Sterling Evans, American Historical Review

"Well written and exhaustively researched, this work is a welcome addition to WWII historiography."—P. G. Connors, Choice

"In this beautifully produced book, Hurt has brought together disparate evidence that until now has rested in obscure state journals, government documents, and newspaper collections. As a result, he has provided fresh insights to the WWII Home Front."—Mark Friedberger, Western Historical Quarterly

"A comprehensive volume that provides a wealth of detail previously unavailable to scholars. The Great Plains tends to be a neglected region, and this book helps admirably to correct this historical oversight."—Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, South Dakota History

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


1. Reluctance

2. The Work of War

3. Women at Work

4. The Home Front

5. Rationing

6. The Farm and Ranch Front

7. Agricultural Labor

8. Military Affairs

9. Internment

10. Prisoner-of-War Camps

11. Indians in Wartime

12. War's End

Appendix of Tables





2008 Noteworthy Books List, sponsored by the Kansas City Star
2009 Outstanding Academic Title, sponsored by Choice magazine
2009 Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize, sponsored by the Center for Great Plains Studies, finalist

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