A Call to Arms: Mobilizing America for World War IIby Maury Klein
The colossal scale of World War II required a mobilization effort greater than anything attempted in all of the world's history. The United States had to fight a war across two oceans and three continents--and to do so, it had to build and equip a military that was all but nonexistent before the war began. Never in the nation's history did it have to create, outfit
The colossal scale of World War II required a mobilization effort greater than anything attempted in all of the world's history. The United States had to fight a war across two oceans and three continents--and to do so, it had to build and equip a military that was all but nonexistent before the war began. Never in the nation's history did it have to create, outfit, transport, and supply huge armies, navies, and air forces on so many distant and disparate fronts.
The Axis powers might have fielded better-trained soldiers, better weapons, and better tanks and aircraft, but they could not match American productivity. The United States buried its enemies in aircraft, ships, tanks, and guns; in this sense, American industry and American workers, won World War II. The scale of the effort was titanic, and the result historic. Not only did it determine the outcome of the war, but it transformed the American economy and society. Maury Klein's A Call to Arms is the definitive narrative history of this epic struggle--told by one of America's greatest historians of business and economics--and renders the transformation of America with a depth and vividness never available before.
For those who believe the "grand narrative" has disappeared, I strongly recommend Maury Klein's elegant and endlessly fascinating account of America's mobilization for World War II. Combining a deft understanding of the enormous forces that won the war and changed the world's direction along with a jeweler's eye for the anecdotes that bring history alive, Klein has produced the best one-volume account to date. The shrewd analysis superb writing, and masterful storytelling sweep the reader along. History doesn't get much better than this.
While the United States did indeed become the arsenal of democracy in World War II, it was far from a smooth or inevitable process. In this outstanding achievement of research, synthesis, and lucid writing, Maury Klein traces the fits and starts, bureaucratic infighting, and eventual unparalleled success of America's economic mobilization that outproduced all enemies combined and enabled the allies to win the war.
Everyone knows that America's economic mobilization was the great force that won World War II--but there was so much more to it than that. In A Call to Arms, one of our greatest historians vividly captures the titanic struggle to turn a Depression-wracked country into a superpower. We see engineers accomplishing the seemingly impossible, managers cracking open production bottlenecks, the troubles and triumphs of weapon design and deployment, and squabbling politicians, businessmen, and labor leaders, all driven forward by the complicated man in the White House, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Where others have seen only numbers, Maury Klein finds a story--a hell of a story.
“Very well written and exhaustively researched, this masterpiece demonstrates that accomplished scholarly work can also be accessible. Highly recommended to both academics and lay readers.” Library Journal, starred review
“[Klein's] coverage of the organization of American institutional, economic, military, and governmental might for WWII is both sobering and inspiring . . . reminiscent of Arthur Schlesinger's earlier, sweeping volumes on the early New Deal--uncommonly perceptive, enjoyably readable, and authoritative.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Klein's book reads like a fairy tale . . . If you haven't given Boyle's law much thought since the Reagan revolution, reading Klein will reward you with an excellent course in heat, electricity, and magnetism, at very little cost to your composure.” Jill Lepore, The New Yorker
“Maury Klein's stories of heroic inventors creating the industrial revolution make the history of technology come alive.” Daniel Walker Howe, NBCC Award nominee for What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848
“This well-oiled colossus of a book-its moving parts working together like a mighty machine--illuminates an epic period of national growth, when the country's first big carbon footprints were made on a march toward greatness and plenty.” Thomas Mallon, author of Henry and Clara, Bandbox, and Fellow Travelers
“For those who believe the 'grand narrative' has disappeared, I strongly recommend Maury Klein's elegant and endlessly fascinating account of America's mobilization for World War II. Combining a deft understanding of the enormous forces that won the war and changed the world's direction along with a jeweler's eye for the anecdotes that bring history alive, Klein has produced the best one-volume account to date. The shrewd analysis superb writing, and masterful storytelling sweep the reader along. History doesn't get much better than this.” David M. Oshinsky, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Polio: An American Story and A Conspiracy So Immense: The World According to Joe McCarthy
“'We must be the great arsenal of democracy,' declared Franklin Roosevelt in December 1940. In the five wartime years that followed, his countrymen stocked that arsenal with astounding quantities of the instruments of war--even while expanding the civilian sector of the economy as well. For all the valor of its warriors on land, sea, and air, in the last analysis it was the stupefying productivity of America's behemoth economy that constituted the nation's greatest contribution to victory. Maury Klein tells the story of the World War II 'production miracle' in all its complexity, contention, and drama. Meticulously researched, incisively argued, and fetchingly written, A Call to Arms is the authoritative account of one of America's most prodigious achievements.” David M. Kennedy
“Thoroughly researched, objective and authoritative in tone, this is likely to be the definitive work on this topic for years to come.” Kirkus Reviews
“[A] magisterial account. Exhaustively researched and engagingly written, this marvelous book tells an epic story. It paints on a broad canvas, yet simultaneously limns detailed and fascinating miniatures of compelling people and places. It deserves a spot on the bookshelf alongside David Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning Freedom From Fear as the definitive rendering of the World War II home front.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“This story of how America became the 'great arsenal of democracy' is the subject of A Call to Arms, and I can't imagine it being told more thoroughly, authoritatively or definitively.” The Washington Post, one of Jonathan Yardley's favorite books of 2013
“Klein is a writer, historian and, most enjoyably, a storyteller . . . The excellent, broader story [he] tells in A Call to Arms is about a country that fought with itself before it could fight its enemies abroad.” Dallas Morning News
- Bloomsbury USA
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Meet the Author
Maury Klein is renowned as one of the finest historians of American business and economy. He is the author of many books, including The Power Makers: Steam, Electricity, and the Men Who Invented Modern America; and Rainbow's End: The Crash of 1929. He is professor emeritus of history at the University of Rhode Island. He lives in Saunderstown, Rhode Island.
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I'm still getting through it. It's a long book. I am a fan of WW11 history and the work is very detailed but takes a lot of time to develop. Acronyms need more clarification after first used. Does seem to move ahead a year and then back a year. Overall I find it very interesting as I grew as a child during this period. I've taken a break from it but look forward to getting on with my reading. Now just reading something lighter.
An excellent book on a fascinating topic. No war was more industrialized than World War II. It was won as much by machine shops as by machine guns. For example, during the war, we produced as many planes in one year as had been produced in all the pre-war years since the Wright brothers invented the airplane in 1903, combined. It was an astonishing industrial achievement. As William S. Knudsen of the National Defense Advisory Commission put it, "We won because we smothered the enemy in an avalanche of production, the like of which he had never seen, nor dreamed possible." Or, as Donald Douglas wrote, "Here's proof that free men can out-produce slaves." Mr. Klein's book is the comprehensive version of this great story. Three other books on the subject are also excellent (and shorter): - "Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II," by Arthur Herman - "Masters of Mass Production," by Christy Borth - "Why the Allies Won," by Richard Overy If you are interested in aircraft, I recommend: - "Climb to Greatness: The American Aircraft Industry, 1920-1960," by John B. Rae Enjoy this adventure into the greatest production job in history.
I first read War Forge, which I thought was excellent, then Call to Arms, which deals in more detail the political to labour to societal issues. An excellent book, hard work to read but very rewarding. It also dispels many myths of the war economy.
Just read it