Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 4, Fall 2009, pp. 329-330


Copyright 2009 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska- Lincoln


The historiography of the American West during the Second World War is still largely dominated by the works of Gerald D. Nash. As impressive as his work is, it does have one Illajor flaw: its neglect of the Great Plains, a major sector of the West. In order to correct this imbalance, Douglas Hurt presents a multifaceted history of the region during the war. The Great Plains during World War II is a thorough analysis of the period from the war's beginning to its conclusion.

Hurt fills his study with the voices of the people of the shortgrass country as he examines the politics of war, the impact of a wartime economy, and the social changes the war brought to the Plains. His best chapters are those that distinguish the Great Plains experience from that of the rest of the country. The war's impact on the Great Plains is reflected also in Hurt's attention to the military presence in the form of bases and training facilities, which brought an economic boom to the region. Military personnel had money to spend, as did the federal government. Concomitant with soldiers and bases were internment camps for Japanese Americans and prisoners of war, especially those from Germany and Italy. The contrast of local attitudes towards prisoners of war and their own fellow Americans is striking.