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Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Must read to understand the role of American Industrial might in winning WWII

Well written and researched the book details haow business leaders answered Presidents's call to organize the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of American busineess to produce the flow of weapons, vehicles, aircraft, ships that supplied both ourselves and our allie...
Well written and researched the book details haow business leaders answered Presidents's call to organize the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of American busineess to produce the flow of weapons, vehicles, aircraft, ships that supplied both ourselves and our allies. The book keys on Henry Kaiser and Bunkie Knudsen (head of General Motors) and their leadership in the effort. However it also covers the contributions of many others including the influx of women into the factories that allowed men to join the armed forces while the flow of the tools of war continued unabated.

posted by WhiteHat61 on July 25, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Interesting but Flawed I have to start by saying that I have pr

Interesting but Flawed

I have to start by saying that I have previously read two books by this author, one on the Royal Navy, and the other on the impact of Scotsmen on the world, and I thoroughly enjoyed both of them.

I enjoyed this book when it was presenting the m...
Interesting but Flawed

I have to start by saying that I have previously read two books by this author, one on the Royal Navy, and the other on the impact of Scotsmen on the world, and I thoroughly enjoyed both of them.

I enjoyed this book when it was presenting the many success stories of the American Economy and the production miracle that it achieved during World War II. As Herman accurately points out, the Axis was literally buried under American war production. When limiting himself to describing how Big Bill Knudson and Henry Kaiser among many others helped to produce this economic miracle, Mr. Herman has produced a very interesting and much needed history.

There are several things however that bothered me about this book.

First of all, there is a breezy lack of regard for facts, showing up as numerous small errors. For example, the woman who served as the model for Rosie the Riveter was named Hoff, not Huff (page 263). Hitler did not declare war on the United States on December 8. It was December 11. (page 156). The battleships sunk and damaged at Pearl Harbor were not modern, but obsolescent, the newest one having been in service for about 20 years. (page 168). And the Japanese did not heavily damage the shipyards and equipment at Pearl. (pages 168-169 ) In fact, just the opposite, and Admiral Nagumo was criticized by his colleagues for not launching a third wave to attack the facilities. The author states that “18,434 Navy battleships, cruisers, carriers, subs and destroyers poured out of America’s shipyards…” (page 247). I don’t know what the real number is but it much less than this. In 1944, the warship count of the US surface fleet was about 850 units.

I only checked one footnote and found that the quotation cited was not on page 241 of the book cited, but instead on page 236. (page 144). Mr. Herman had some poor help in editing and fact checking his book.

This brings me to the second, and more disturbing issue with this book. Mr. Herman has worked for the American Enterprise Institute for the past two years, and this book was written under their auspices. He cites help from AEI colleagues in editing this work (they should have done a better job. See above.) The AEI is a conservative, pro-business, libertarian think tank. Their political agenda is promoted through out this book with the subtlety of a jackhammer. Conservatives never miss an opportunity to denigrate FDR, minimize the impact of the New Deal and dispute Keynesian economics. Mr. Herman attempts to fulfill his obligation to his employer referring to the “failed New Deal”, by minimizing FDR’s role in World War II, and portraying him as clueless, shiftless and worthless. Communists lead the labor movement, and New Dealers can’t wait to take over the economy and destroy the war effort for their own agenda Then in the conclusion, he makes a diatribe against Bruce Catton and Keynesian Economics. It is bizarre.

In short, the very good story that this book contains has been cheapened due to the errors and gratuitous editorials it contains. It appears to have been written to promote a political view first and present a very important part of our history second. It is a shame that Mr. Herman has sold out his objectivity as a historian. I will continue to teach my college students that demand for war material led to a vast economic expansion of the American economy which brought full employment to the economy and overcame the Great Depressio

posted by Anonymous on July 18, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    Interesting but Flawed I have to start by saying that I have pr

    Interesting but Flawed

    I have to start by saying that I have previously read two books by this author, one on the Royal Navy, and the other on the impact of Scotsmen on the world, and I thoroughly enjoyed both of them.

    I enjoyed this book when it was presenting the many success stories of the American Economy and the production miracle that it achieved during World War II. As Herman accurately points out, the Axis was literally buried under American war production. When limiting himself to describing how Big Bill Knudson and Henry Kaiser among many others helped to produce this economic miracle, Mr. Herman has produced a very interesting and much needed history.

    There are several things however that bothered me about this book.

    First of all, there is a breezy lack of regard for facts, showing up as numerous small errors. For example, the woman who served as the model for Rosie the Riveter was named Hoff, not Huff (page 263). Hitler did not declare war on the United States on December 8. It was December 11. (page 156). The battleships sunk and damaged at Pearl Harbor were not modern, but obsolescent, the newest one having been in service for about 20 years. (page 168). And the Japanese did not heavily damage the shipyards and equipment at Pearl. (pages 168-169 ) In fact, just the opposite, and Admiral Nagumo was criticized by his colleagues for not launching a third wave to attack the facilities. The author states that “18,434 Navy battleships, cruisers, carriers, subs and destroyers poured out of America’s shipyards…” (page 247). I don’t know what the real number is but it much less than this. In 1944, the warship count of the US surface fleet was about 850 units.

    I only checked one footnote and found that the quotation cited was not on page 241 of the book cited, but instead on page 236. (page 144). Mr. Herman had some poor help in editing and fact checking his book.

    This brings me to the second, and more disturbing issue with this book. Mr. Herman has worked for the American Enterprise Institute for the past two years, and this book was written under their auspices. He cites help from AEI colleagues in editing this work (they should have done a better job. See above.) The AEI is a conservative, pro-business, libertarian think tank. Their political agenda is promoted through out this book with the subtlety of a jackhammer. Conservatives never miss an opportunity to denigrate FDR, minimize the impact of the New Deal and dispute Keynesian economics. Mr. Herman attempts to fulfill his obligation to his employer referring to the “failed New Deal”, by minimizing FDR’s role in World War II, and portraying him as clueless, shiftless and worthless. Communists lead the labor movement, and New Dealers can’t wait to take over the economy and destroy the war effort for their own agenda Then in the conclusion, he makes a diatribe against Bruce Catton and Keynesian Economics. It is bizarre.

    In short, the very good story that this book contains has been cheapened due to the errors and gratuitous editorials it contains. It appears to have been written to promote a political view first and present a very important part of our history second. It is a shame that Mr. Herman has sold out his objectivity as a historian. I will continue to teach my college students that demand for war material led to a vast economic expansion of the American economy which brought full employment to the economy and overcame the Great Depressio

    11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 30, 2012

    Highly recommended

    One of the best nonfiction books I have read in a long. It tells the story of how American industry responded to the massive needs of WWII. Men like Bill Knudson and Henry J. Kaiser became heroes in their own right as they helped awake the sleeping giant that was the ability of the American people to come together and build planes, ships and armament needed for the war effort both in America and in Europe. Couldn't put the book down because of wanting to see what amazing thing would be accomplished next. Very well written story.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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