In 1945, the United States inherited the earth… at the end of World War II, what was left of Western civilization passed into the American account. The war had also prompted the country to invent a miraculous economic machine that seemed to grant as many wishes as were asked of it. The continental United States had escaped the plague of war, and so it was easy enough for the heirs to believe that they had been anointed by God.

Lewis H. Lapham, “America’s Foreign Policy: A Rake’s Progress”, in Studs Terkel, ”The Good War”: An Oral History of World War II