For the millions of soldiers who came back from WWII, life was vastly different than it was before the war began. The Great Depression - the worldwide economic downturn that caused much suffering and hardship during the 1930s - had ended with the war. Except for Europe, where recovery was a steady but difficult process, much of the world rebounded. In the U.S., economic recovery meant almost full employment. Women who had worked in factories and elsewhere during the war years now yielded to a different reality as soldiers became civilians once again and took over their jobs. Thanks to the Marshall Plan, Europe's bombed out cities and industry began to rebuild, modernizing in the process and becoming vastly more efficient. Money from the Marshall Plan also helped the U.S. economy to reach stunning heights it had never reached before. And where radio, the telegraph, and newspapers had once dominated, now a new invention began to capture the world's attention: television. Technology also led to the "space race" between the USSR and the United States.
The main concern, however, remained with growing worldwide tensions that occurred at the end of WWII between the free world and one that espoused communism; notably, between the United States, the USSR, and China. Improvements in technology meant improvements in rocketry and nuclear weapons, culminating in the production of the hydrogen bomb - a much more powerful weapon than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. With so much more at stake, the hidden world of espionage soon began to dominate.