"King America"picks up in 1939 with the planet on the brink of a second world war. Clearly, World War I – the "War to End All Wars" – failed to do just that. The vindictive nature of the Treaty of Versailles, which reads like it was penned by a group of angry 5th graders, doomed any chances for long-lasting and permanent peace. The spendthrift attitudes of the 1920s, coupled with the economic devastation of the 1930s, provided the perfect cover for Adolf Hitler's rise in Germany... Benito Mussolini’s takeover in Italy... and Hideki Tojo's expansion in Japan. Without American participation, the League of Nations lacked the teeth to stop such activities, and, 21 years after the world was "made safe for democracy", World War II began.
Like the sequel to any Hollywood summer blockbuster, World War II was bigger, longer, more expensive, and had a higher body count than the original. Sixty-one nations charged into the fray, but, when the dust settled, only two emerged as superpowers: the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
The cooling relations between these war-time allies divided the world and brought it to the brink of nuclear conflict during the ensuing Cold War. Proxy wars in Greece, Turkey, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan pitted capitalist and communist ideologies against one another for the next four decades. The need to contain (and later defeat) communism allowed for post-World War II America to enjoy a ballooning economy for the first time in 30 years. This harkened a return to the 1920s-styled consumer society built on credit, as well as a "Baby Boom" thanks to the boys in uniform who went to college and settled in suburban America.
Just as mass-consumerism during the "Roaring Twenties" resulted in the Great Depression, suppressing social problems during the "Fabulous Fifties" sparked the Civil Rights Movement. Still, the nation's accomplishments made it clear that the U.S. dominated the '40s and '50s as "King America".