"A Tale of Three Cities:
How the United States Won World War II"
A Lecture by David Kennedy

by
Tom Goldstein

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On December 3, 2001, the Center for Historical Studies presented the first annual Nathan and Jeanette Miller Distinguished Lecture featuring Pulitzer Prize winning historian David Kennedy. Dr. Kennedy's lecture was entitled, "A Tale of Three Cities: How the United States Won World War II." Nathan and Jeanette Miller, both graduates of the University of Maryland, sponsored the lecture.

Mr. Miller began by thanking the teachers he had at Maryland and introducing the chair of Maryland History Department, Dr. John Lampe. Dr. Lampe offered brief remarks regarding the salience of the lecture topic given the recent terrorist attacks on the United States and the government's current war on terrorism. CHS director Gary Gerstle then introduced Dr. Kennedy, noting that he is the perfect candidate for this lecture series because he "straddles the worlds of scholarship and public affairs."

Dr. Kennedy began by posing the questions, "What if the United States had lost World War II? What if it had won in a different way? How would the world be different?" He then stated the premise for his lecture: World War II was a deeply transformative event in that it transformed global society and placed the United States at the pinnacle of the world. Indeed, we still see these results today. He next stated his hypothesis: this result did not just happen.

Dr. Kennedy next explained that as late as 1940, it seemed extremely improbable to realistically imagine the United States emerging from World War II as a world superpower on the verge of an economic boom that would last decades. 1940 was the


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