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"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 of Joe McCarthy
"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."—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom and Tried By War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief
"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." —T. J. Stiles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
“The 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. Maury Klein crowns his long career with this massive examination of one of the most important aspects of 20th-century American history and one of the least documented or understood. In every respect, “A Call to Arms” is a remarkable and singularly important piece of work.”—Washington Post,one of Jonathan Yardley’s favorite books of 2013
“[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.” –Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Maury Klein, the noted economic historian, has written a sweeping account of how America got ready for war. A CALL TO ARMS is history writ both large and small—from FDR at cocktail hour to ordinary workers on the assembly line, from portraits of cabinet chiefs to detailed discussions of industrial fabrication and the endless turf battles of New Deal agencies.”—Wall Street Journal
"Except for a couple of nearly unreadable official histories, there is no comprehensive retelling of the ‘production Miracle’ that made the United States the "Arsenal of Democracy.’ Maury Klein’s A CALL TO ARMS fills that gap. Moreover, it does so in a spectacular fashion. Klein’s work does the same for the story of American production that Adam Tooze (Wages of Destruction, 2006) did for those trying to grasp the scope of Germany’s World War II economic effort...for those seeking a comprehensive understanding of World War II, A CALL TO ARMS is a must read. Moreover, considering the subject matter, this is a great read."—Military History Quarterly
“[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)
“Thoroughly researched, objective and authoritative in tone, this is likely to be the definitive work on this topic for years to come.”—Kirkus Reviews
“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 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
Posted August 22, 2013
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.
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Posted August 3, 2014
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.
Posted January 13, 2014
Posted January 10, 2014
Posted December 13, 2013
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