"Ka-Boom to Bust"picks up in 1914 on the eve of the First World War. America had done quite well for itself in the decades leading up to World War I. Thanks to numerous imperialistic endeavors in Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America, the U.S. earned a coveted seat at the "grownup" table. The Second Industrial Revolution transformed the once agrarian nation into an industrial powerhouse – and President Teddy Roosevelt was quick to flash America's strength worldwide with the Great White Fleet and his "Big Stick" policy.
But, when the world's finest dropped their gloves and started slugging it out in the trenches and mud of Europe, America was faced with its first legitimate international crisis. Defeating Spain in 1898 was small potatoes compared to the daunting task of gearing up for war with Germany and Austria-Hungary.
America's success in the Great War, however, sent the nation on a rollercoaster ride for the next two decades. Enthusiastic patriotism following the war resulted in a happy-go-lucky and spendthrift mentality that inevitably saw the bottom drop out with the Stock Market Crash in 1929. Suddenly, the flappers and gangsters of the "Roaring Twenties" were out of work and living on the streets. America had the rug pulled out from under it, and, it seemed, the good times had forever come to an end.