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Daniel Moss

Cost of Victory: Converting a Wartime Economy to Peace

America’s economy faced serious challenges by mid-1945, some not too dissimilar to the recent pandemic pressures. This Q&A with author and academic Marc Gallicchio examines the debates that drove policy.  

Assembling M-3 tanks in an American factory during World War II.

Assembling M-3 tanks in an American factory during World War II.

Photographer: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Strained supply chains, inflationary pressures in the pipeline and worries about the health of the labor market. Sound familiar? This is the US in 1945 as President Harry S. Truman tried to engineer an end to World War II and minimize disruptions that would accompany peace. 

The  role of the atomic attacks on Japan, fears of Russian encroachment and the collapse of Japanese industry are well charted in discussions surrounding Tokyo’s capitulation on Aug. 15, 1945. Less well known is the impact of financial and commercial tensions developing on the home front. I spoke to Marc Gallicchio, professor of history at Villanova University and author of “Unconditional: The Japanese surrender in World War II,” which dives into the debates within Truman’s team about ending the war, including fears of an impending economic calamity.