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The 1940s (pronounced "nineteen-forties" and commonly abbreviated as the "Forties") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1940, and ended on December 31, 1949.

Most of World War II took place in the first half of the decade, which had a profound effect on most countries and people in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. The consequences of the war lingered well into the second half of the decade, with a war-weary Europe divided between the jostling spheres of influence of the Western world and the Soviet Union, leading to the beginning of the Cold War. To some degree internal and external tensions in the post-war era were managed by new institutions, including the United Nations, the welfare state, and the Bretton Woods system, facilitating the post–World War II economic expansion, which lasted well into the 1970s. However, the conditions of the post-war world encouraged decolonization and the emergence of new states and governments, with India, Pakistan, Israel, Vietnam, and others declaring independence, although rarely without bloodshed. The decade also witnessed the early beginnings of new technologies (such as computers, nuclear power, and jet propulsion), often first developed in tandem with the war effort, and later adapted and improved upon in the post-war era.

Selected article

Trinity Test of the Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project was a research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs during World War II. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army Corps of Engineers. It began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion (the equivalent of about $26 billion now). Although it operated under a tight blanket of security, it was penetrated by Soviet atomic spies. The first device ever detonated was an implosion-type nuclear weapon in the Trinity test (pictured), conducted at New Mexico's Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range on 16 July 1945. Project personnel participated in the Alsos Mission in Europe, and in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war the Manhattan Project conducted weapons testing in Operation Crossroads, developed new weapons, established the network of national laboratories, supported medical research into radiology, and laid the foundations for a nuclear navy. It was replaced by the Atomic Energy Commission and the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project in 1947. (Read more...)

Selected picture

We Can Do It!
Credit: Artist: J. Howard Miller

J. Howard Miller's famous poster for Westinghouse, entitled We Can Do It!, is iconically associated with Rosie the Riveter, a cultural icon of the United States. Rosie represented the six million women who worked in the manufacturing plants on the home front which produced munitions and material during World War II while the men (who traditionally performed this work) were fighting in the Pacific and European Theaters. This "character" is now considered a feminist icon in the U.S., and a herald of women's economic power to come.

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Selected biography

A view of Jinnah's face late in life

Muhammad Ali Jinnah (25 December 1876 – 11 September 1948) was an Indian Muslim politician and statesman who led the All India Muslim League and founded Pakistan, serving as its first Governor-General. While celebrated as a great leader in Pakistan, Jinnah remains a controversial figure, provoking intense criticism for his role in the partition of India. As a student and young lawyer, Jinnah rose to prominence in the Indian National Congress, expounded Hindu-Muslim unity, shaped the 1916 Lucknow Pact between the Congress and the Muslim League, and was a key leader in the All India Home Rule League. Differences with Mohandas Gandhi led Jinnah to quit the Congress; he then took charge of the Muslim League and proposed a fourteen-point constitutional reform plan to safeguard the political rights of Muslim in a self-governing India. Disillusioned by the failure of his efforts and the League's disunity, Jinnah would live in London for many years. Several Muslim leaders persuaded Jinnah to return to India in 1934 and re-organise the League. Disillusioned by the failure to build coalitions with the Congress, Jinnah embraced the goal of creating a separate state for Muslims as in the Lahore Resolution. The failure of the Congress-League coalition to govern the country prompted both parties and the British to agree to partition. (Read more...)


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