A Call to Arms: Mobilizing America for World War II [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...
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A Call to Arms: Mobilizing America for World War II

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Overview

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, better tanks and aircraft. But they could not match American productivity. America buried its enemies in aircraft, ships, tanks, and guns; in this sense, American industry, and American workers, won World War II. The scale of 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 first narrative history of this epic struggle, told by a master historian, and renders the transformation of America with a depth and detail never available before.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It’s hard to imagine how a book about the sudden wartime awakening of an industrial power could be fast-paced and readable. Yet Klein (The Power Makers), an experienced historian of the 20th-century American economy (he’s professor emeritus of history at the University of Rhode Island), pulls it off. His coverage of the organization of American institutional, economic, military, and governmental might for WWII is both sobering and inspiring—the former because of the obstacles to achieving wartime preparedness, the latter for the eventual success of the mobilization. All in all, the book is a comprehensive look at “the greatest industrial expansion in modern history.” Scarcely an industry, government agency, public official, or wartime effort escapes Klein’s attention, and he writes with uncommon verve and vividness—his intimate portraits of individuals are themselves worth the cost of this hefty tome. In many ways, the book is reminiscent of Arthur Schlesinger’s earlier, sweeping volumes on the early New Deal (e.g., The Vital Center)—uncommonly perceptive, enjoyably readable, and authoritative. The sole fault of Klein’s book is its lack of theme or unifying argument. That said, in both aspiration and execution, this fine history easily surpasses Arthur Herman’s Freedom’s Forge (2012) in its coverage of the same subject. (July)
From the Publisher
"'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, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of FREEDOM FROM FEAR: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

"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

 

Library Journal
The common view of the United States during World War II is that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor awoke a sleeping industrial giant that became an unstoppable juggernaut, leading to an inevitable victory. Klein (history, emeritus, Univ. of Rhode Island; The Power Makers) compellingly traces the history of our World War II mobilization from its roots in the 1930s as Franklin D. Roosevelt and his supporters worked against popular opinion to prepare the nation for a war he considered unavoidable. Klein draws on an impressive array of sources to discuss politics, labor, industry, business, and the complex interplay of domestic and foreign events that enabled the United States to meet the challenges of war. VERDICT Very well written and exhaustively researched, this masterpiece demonstrates that accomplished scholarly work can also be accessible. Harold G. Vatter's The U.S. Economy in World War II treated the subject in briefer fashion. Paul A.C. Koistinen's Arsenal of World War II: The Political Economy of American Warfare, 1940–1945 covered this topic, but in a dryer fashion. Highly recommended to both academics and lay readers.—Claire Houck, New York
Kirkus Reviews
Klein (History, Emeritus/Univ. of Rhode Island; Union Pacific: The Reconfiguration: America's Greatest Railroad from 1969 to the Present, 2011, etc.) delivers a sprawling account of the struggle to mobilize the moribund American economy for World War II. In 1939, much of the country was unwilling even to think about going to war again. The legacy of the previous world war hung heavy on industry, which had created costly productive capacity that proved to be unnecessary and was then vilified as profiteer and punished by boneheaded tax policies. Even after Pearl Harbor, it was difficult to persuade companies to expand plants and completely retool to produce unfamiliar products like tanks, while unions viewed mobilization as a pretext to roll back gains of the previous decade. By 1942, the military, arms industries and civilian economy had to compete for access to increasingly scarce materials like oil, rubber and steel. Balancing demands for manpower was a constant problem, as was keeping prices from ballooning out of control. The Roosevelt administration attempted to manage these challenges as it had the Depression: through an alphabet soup of boards and bureaus, often with overlapping mandates and vague powers, resulting in confusion, frustration and inefficiency. Much of Klein's book is taken up with the constant reshuffling of these agencies and their battles with each other and the armed services; they seem ultimately to have succeeded in putting the country on a war footing almost in spite of themselves. Throughout, the author demonstrates the astonishing complexity of mobilization and illuminates the difficulties of attempting to impose central planning on a modern economy outside of a fully totalitarian system, which Roosevelt, to his credit, resisted creating. Thoroughly researched, objective and authoritative in tone, this is likely to be the definitive work on this topic for years to come, though it is likely too detailed for casual readers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608194094
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 7/16/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 99,972
  • File size: 26 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Maury Klein is the author of many books, including The Life and Legend of Jay Gould; Days of Defiance: Sumter, Secession, and the Coming of the Civil War; and Rainbow's End: The Crash of 1929. He is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Rhode Island.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    I'm still getting through it. It's a long book. I am a fan of WW

    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.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 3, 2014

    An excellent book on a fascinating topic. No war was more indust

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2014

    Woo

    Just read it

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2014

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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