Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: July 2014

1 - Convergence, Metropolitanization, and Anticommunism


World War II transformed the modern American Sunbelt. That war – or more specifically, the massive amount of money spent by the federal government to mobilize the nation and fight that war – accelerated the regional convergence and economic development of metropolitan communities across the South and West. Much of that economic development was rooted in industrial growth connected to national security interests, defense contracts, military expansion, and technology. It was concurrently fueled by and cyclically reflected in the rapid growth of related but increasingly postindustrial sectors such as higher education, finance, real estate, retail, and tourism. Economic expansion across the Sunbelt resulted in population growth, and population growth contributed to greater political significance.

The Sunbelt’s early growth also coincided with the development of a national political culture that was powerfully shaped by anticommunism. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, as cities across the South and West were booming, Americans everywhere – whether liberal or conservative – operated within a contextual framework that prioritized the containment (and eventual defeat) of communism. Seen by many as both a challenge to U.S. interests abroad as well as American values at home, communism – in all its loosely defined and fearfully imagined forms – quickly became the nation’s top perceived threat.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Slotkin, Richard, Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998)
Turner, Frederick Jackson, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” Annual Report of the American Historical Association, 1893
Morrison, Michael A., Slavery and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997)
Kantrowitz, Stephen, Ben Tillman & The Reconstruction of White Supremacy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000)
Kazin, Michael, A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006)
McMath, Robert C., American Populism: A Social History, 1877–1898 (New York: Hill & Wang, 1993)
Postel, Charles, The Populist Vision (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007)
Kazin, Michael, The Populist Persuasion: An American History (New York: Basic Books, 1995)
Young, Nancy Beck, Wright Patman: Populism, Liberalism, and the American Dream (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 2000)
Wiebe, Robert H., The Search for Order, 1877–1920 (New York: Hill & Wang, 1967)
Painter, Nell Irvin, Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877–1919 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1987)
McGerr, Michael, A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870–1920 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005)
Link, William A., The Paradox of Southern Progressivism, 1880–1930 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992)
Langdale, John J., Superfluous Southerners: Cultural Conservatism and the South, 1920–1990 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2012)
Badger, Anthony, The New Deal: The Depression Years, 1933–1940 (New York: The Noonday Press, 1989)
Brinkley, Alan, The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War (New York: Vintage Books, 1995)
Cohen, Lizabeth, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919–1939 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990)
Kennedy, David M., Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)
Smith, Jason Scott, A Concise History of the New Deal (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014)
Young, Nancy Beck, Why We Fight: Congress and the Politics of World War II (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2013)
Brands, H. W., Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (New York: Doubleday, 2008)
Smith, Jean Edward, FDR (New York: Random House, 2007)
Campbell, Randolph B., Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 396–407
Goldfield, David R., Cotton Fields and Skyscrapers: Southern City and Region, 1607–1980 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982)
Kirby, Jack Temple, Rural Worlds Lost: The American South, 1920–1960 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1986)
Culver, Lawrence, The Frontier of Leisure: Southern California and the Shaping of Modern America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)
Shermer, Elizabeth Tandy, Sunbelt Capitalism: Phoenix and the Transformation of American Politics (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013)
Frederickson, Kari, Cold War Dixie: Militarization and Modernization in the American South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2013)
Nash, Gerald D., World War II & the West: Reshaping the Economy (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990)
Nash, Gerald D., A Brief History of the American West Since 1945 (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Publishers, 2001), 95–107
Phillips, Kevin, American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (New York: Viking, 2006)
Burrough, Bryan, The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes (New York: The Penguin Press, 2009)
Goldberg, Robert Alan, Barry Goldwater (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995)
Stevens, Joseph E., Hoover Dam: An American Adventure (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988)
Link, William A., North Carolina: Change and Tradition in a Southern State (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 2009)
Chafe, William H., The Unfinished Journey: America Since World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 112
Patterson, James T., Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 10–38, 61–81
Gaddis, John Lewis, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941–1947 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972)
Hart, Justin, Empire of Ideas: The Origins of Public Diplomacy and the Transformation of U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013)
Hunt, Michael H., Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988)
May, Elaine Tyler, Homeward Bound, American Families in the Cold War Era (New York: Basic Books, 1988)
Stevens, Jason W., God-Fearing and Free: A Spiritual History of America’s Cold War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010)
Whitfield, Stephen J., The Culture of the Cold War (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991)
Heale, M. J., McCarthy’s Americans: Red Scare Politics in State and Nation, 1935–1965 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998)
Woods, Jeff, Black Struggle, Red Scare: Segregation and Anti-Communism in the South, 1948–1968 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004)
Haynes, John Earl and Klehr, Harvey, Early Cold War Spies: The Espionage Trials That Shaped American Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
Powers, Richard Gid, Not Without Honor: The History of American Anticommunism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995)
Schrecker, Ellen, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998)
Crespino, Joseph, Strom Thurmond’s America (New York: Hill & Wang, 2012)
Lewis, George, The White South and the Red Menace: Segregationists, Anticommunism, and Massive Resistance, 1945–1965 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2004)
Perlstein, Rick, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (New York: Hill & Wang, 2001)
Greenberg, David, Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2003)
Ambrose, Stephen E., Nixon: The Education of a Politician, 1913–1962 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987)
Ambrose, Stephen E., Nixon: The Triumph of a Politician, 1962–1972 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989)
Ambrose, Stephen E., Nixon: Ruin and Recovery, 1973–1990 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991)
Perlstein, Rick, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (New York: Scribner, 2009)
Gellman, Irwin, The Contender: Richard Nixon: The Congress Years, 1946–1952 (New York: The Free Press, 1999)
Cunningham, Sean P., “The Paranoid Style and Its Limits: The Power, Influence, and Failure of the Postwar Texas Far Right,” in Cullen, David and Wilkison, Kyle, eds., The Texas Right: The Radical Roots of Lone Star Conservatism (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2013)
Carleton, Don E., Red Scare!: Right-Wing Hysteria, Fifties Fanaticism, and Their Legacy in Texas (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1985)
Devine, Thomas W., Henry Wallace’s 1948 Presidential Campaign and the Future of Postwar Liberalism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013)
Korstad, Robert Rodgers, Civil Rights Unionism: Tobacco Workers and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth-Century South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003)
VanderMeer, Philip, Desert Visions and the Making of Phoenix, 1860–2009 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2012)