The Great War in America: World War I and Its Aftermath by Garrett PeckThe Great War’s bitter outcome left the experience largely overlooked and forgotten in American history. This timely book is a reexamination of America’s first global experience as we commemorate World War Is centennial. The U.S. had steered clear of the European conflagration known as the Great War for more than two years, but President Woodrow Wilson reluctantly led the divided country into the conflict with the goal of making the world “safe for democracy.” The country assumed a global role for the first time and attempted to build the foundations for world peace, only to witness the experience go badly awry and it retreated into isolationism.
Though overshadowed by the tens of millions of deaths and catastrophic destruction of World War II, the Great War was the most important war of the twentieth century. It was the first continent-wide conflagration in a century, and it drew much of the world into its fire. By the end of it, four empires and their royal houses had fallen, communism was unleashed, the map of the Middle East was redrawn, and the United States emerged as a global power – only to withdraw from the world’s stage.
The Great War is often overlooked, especially compared to World War II, which is considered the “last good war.” The United States was disillusioned with what it achieved in the earlier war and withdrew into itself. Americans have tried to forget about it ever since. The Great War in America presents an opportunity to reexamine the country’s role on the global stage and the tremendous political and social changes that overtook the nation because of the war.
The Consequences of World War I
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
World War I was a global military conflict from through It killed 9 million soldiers, wounded 21 million, and left 7 million disabled. Another 10 million civilians died. Germany and France each lost 80 percent of their male population aged between 15 and It was called the Great War because it affected people in every continent. It was supposed to be the "War to End All Wars. It had 10 lasting impacts that changed the world forever.
Unlike the countries of Europe, the factories and home of the US had not been destroyed. Manufacturing, production and efficiency had increased through necessity during the Great War. America had emerged as a world industrial leader and the US economy was booming, profits were increasing which led to the period in American history called the Roaring Twenties with a massive rise in consumerism for the wealthy. On the negative side, inflation was high and companies and corporations started the reduce wages and lay off workers to keep down operating costs. The power of the Unions had grown during the war, workers protested and saw a massive wave of strikes. Competition for employment led to racial unrest and race riots breeding hatred and suspicion which spilled over into the Red Scare and the fear of communism. To fight you must be brutal and ruthless, and the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fibre of our national life, infecting Congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the street.
As a massive, total war the conflict affected millions of lives , and shaped the future in profound ways. Indeed, 20 years later Europe would be shaken by an even greater war that many attribute to the fallout from this first great conflict. When Germany defeated France on 22 June , Adolf Hitler insisted that the armistice was signed in exactly the same carriage.
The Aftermath of World War I saw drastic political, cultural, economic, and social change across Eurasia Europe and Asia , Africa, and even in areas outside those that were directly involved. Four empires collapsed due to the war, old countries were abolished, new ones were formed, boundaries were redrawn, international organizations were established, and many new and old ideologies took a firm hold in people's minds. World War I also had the effect of bringing political transformation to most of the principal parties involved in the conflict, transforming them into electoral democracies by bringing near- universal suffrage for the first time in history, as in Germany German federal election , Great Britain United Kingdom general election , and Turkey Turkish general election. Through the period from the armistice on 11 November until the signing of the peace treaty with Germany on 28 June , the Allies maintained the naval blockade of Germany that had begun during the war. As Germany was dependent on imports, it is estimated that , civilians had lost their lives. Howard, of the University of Sheffield, claims that a further quarter of a million more died from disease or starvation in the eight-month period following the conclusion of the conflict. The German government was required to use its gold reserves, being unable to secure a loan from the United States.