Cry Havoc: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931-1941

Cry Havoc: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931-1941

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by Joseph Maiolo
     
 

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Did the arms race of the 1930s cause the Second World War?

In Cry Havoc, historian Joseph Maiolo shows, in rich and fascinating detail, how the deadly game of the arms race was played out in the decade prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. In this exhaustively researched account, he explores how nations reacted to the moves of their rivals,

Overview


Did the arms race of the 1930s cause the Second World War?

In Cry Havoc, historian Joseph Maiolo shows, in rich and fascinating detail, how the deadly game of the arms race was played out in the decade prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. In this exhaustively researched account, he explores how nations reacted to the moves of their rivals, revealing the thinking of those making the key decisions—Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain, Stalin, Roosevelt—and the dilemmas of democratic leaders who seemed to be faced with a choice between defending their nations and preserving their democratic way of life.

An unparalleled account of an era of extreme political tension, Cry Havoc shows how the interwar arms race shaped the outcome of World War II before the shooting even began.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Richard Overy, author of Why the Allies Won
“The issues surrounding the rearmament of the major powers before World War II are immensely complex, bound up not only with the conventional problems of international security but with domestic politics and the rapid and often unpredictable pattern of technical change. Joe Maiolo has succeeded in juggling all these many balls in the air to produce a master synthesis of one of the major forces driving the world once again to total war. This is a book of great learning and intelligence.”

Odd Arne Westad, Professor of International History, London School of Economics, and author of The Global Cold War
“By placing arms races in central positions on the road to war, Maiolo has helped develop our understanding both of the international history of the 1930s and the cataclysm that followed. This is a hugely impressive book, full of material that will enlighten general readers and that historians will make use of for a generation to come.”

Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman
“Joe Maiolo has taken one of the most studied periods in international history and managed to find a completely new angle, not by denying the role of the national leaders but by stressing the remorseless logic of rearmament and military mobilization in shaping their choices.”
 
Publishers Weekly
“Maiolo makes a strong case that by 1939 the Axis’s enemies had taken a sufficient lead that Italy, Japan, and Germany sought to create windows of opportunity using what they had. The result was a global, total war--and continuation of the arms race in thermonuclear, superpower contexts that continued until the U.S.S.R.’s implosion.”

History Today
“A compelling read.... While this is an academically informed book, Maiolo’s skill rests in his ability to distil complex, and at times technical subjects, into very readable prose.... The book is important because it provides a thorough examination of a neglected aspect of the cause of the Second World War.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Provocative examination of modern history, showing that World War II was all but inevitable given the military-industrial-political complex of the day.... A fruitful, timely work in an era of ever-increasing military spending.”

The Rusi Journal
“Joe Maiolo’s beautifully written book about the arms race is a...narrative awash with trenchant insights and profound observations. This superb, multilateral analysis of the interplay between key leaders of the different states is based on an exhaustive use of sources from Britain, the US, France, Italy, Germany, the USSR and Japan — and Joe Maiolo reads all these languages, except for Russian. The language flows so smoothly and the words are so judiciously chosen that this is a riveting read…”

Richard Bosworth, Times Higher Education Supplement
“As I am an old (critical) fan of A.J.P. Taylor's The Origins of the Second World War, it is great to read a replacement volume, written by Maiolo in the same trenchant manner, with the same refusal to endorse cliched interpretations and with more determination to ensure accuracy than its predecessor.”

The Michigan War Studies Review
“[Cry Havoc] reminds us of the benefits of careful integration of international history with the study of domestic pressures and threat perceptions; it incisively explores the role and direction of state power in the history of the violent twentieth century.... The resulting narrative and analysis are wonderfully lucid and comprehensive.... It will force students of the interwar period and of World War II to rethink old assumptions about appeasement and to consider the interactions of the great powers from economic, diplomatic, political, and military angles. This truly international history will richly reward not only scholars but any reader interested in the Second World War or the genesis of the military-industrial-political complex.”

Time Out for Entertainment
“[Maiolo argues] the war was preordained by a self-perpetuating, overriding, and impersonal force — rearmament. It’s an interesting hypothesis and Maiolo makes it forcefully and readably.”

Contemporary Review
“Dr. Maiolo follows a chronological approach as it was a chronological phenomenon based on action and reaction and this allows him to show how each step forward affected others. This is an excellent example of revisionist (as well as comparative) history that will do much to shape future generations' understanding of the war.”

Chris Barsanti, PopMatters.com
“Last year, Joseph Maiolo’s Cry Havoc: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War 1931–1941 [burrowed] deep into the historical archives to show how government planners created an inexorable tide of armament that essentially made the Second World War inevitable.”

Choice
“[An] incisive reexamination of the interwar arms race.... Maiolo has much to offer that is new, and his book is certain to become both a standard reference and a departure point for subsequent scholarship. It is grounded by impressive scholarship in archival sources, presents a balanced and nuanced international perspective, and is cogently argued and convincingly written. It offers its readers… a thoughtful, accessible text that is enjoyable and erudite.  The author displays an enviable ability to delineate and explain the most complex aspects of diplomatic policy and military technology.. ..Essential.”

Journal of Contemporary History
“[T]houghts about procurement and strategy turn us back to previous arms races and this book [Cry Havoc] by Maiolo, a Canadian veteran who lectures in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, is especially interesting.  In a study that is impressive largely for its wide-ranging nature… Maiolo links the interwar arms race to the strategic culture of particular states and shows how it gained a worldwide impact.”

BBC History Magazine
“Maiolo’s book is necessarily replete with statistics and comparisons, but achieves the feat of being both readable and thoroughgoing. A formidable work of research, it illuminates an important and little-known aspect of the history of the war.”

Publishers Weekly
Maiolo (The Royal Navy and Nazi Germany, 1933–1939), of the department of war studies at King’s College, London, challenges the familiar thesis that WWII was a consequence of the democracies neglecting their defenses in the 1920s and failing to rearm quickly enough in the 1930s to stop Axis aggression. This thoroughly researched work makes an alternate case: growing political tension in the 1930s generated a general arms race. It began with the “Red militarism” initiated by Soviet Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky. It was thrown into high gear when Nazi Germany repudiated the Versailles treaty, and a synergy of action-reaction surges increased the pace of military spending and production. With an “emulate-or-capitulate logic,” the arms race became “a vast maelstrom,” with its own dynamic that destroyed the participants’ master plans. Maiolo makes a strong case that by 1939 the Axis’s enemies had taken a sufficient lead that Italy, Japan, and Germany sought to create windows of opportunity using what they had. The result was a global, total war--and continuation of the arms race in thermonuclear, superpower contexts that continued until the U.S.S.R.’s implosion. 16 b&w illus.; maps. (Oct.)
Library Journal
This densely detailed account conveys the complex maneuvering among nations and industrialists while the world struggled with the Depression, unemployment, rising unrest, nationalism, competition for resources, and mutual suspicion. A difficult story told well, it adds a great deal to purely military histories by explaining how the various combatants were driven to build their military forces, mostly by the fear that someone else would do so first. This will be of interest to readers of economic as well as military history.
Kirkus Reviews

Provocative examination of modern history, showing that World War II was all but inevitable given the military-industrial-political complex of the day.

In Europe and Asia in the era following World War I, writes Maiolo (International History and War Studies/King's College, London; The Royal Navy and Nazi Germany, 1933–1939, 1998), many of the world's powers decided to shake off the bad memories of the trenches and rearm. As the author notes, the United States hardly figured at the beginning, its standing army tiny and military budget almost nonexistent. France had the biggest army in the world in 1929, and the other powers measured themselves against it. Some rearmed deliberately, taking the first steps to do so under the tutelage of the likes of Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky and Werner von Blomberg. This armament and rearmament came packed with apocalyptic visions. Joseph Stalin, for instance, believed that "the ruling classes in Paris and London would soon face the choice of either class war on their own streets or joining forces to strike a spiteful blow against that beacon of proletarian hope, the Soviet Union." That blow would come from Germany, of course, which had an apocalyptic vision to match Stalin's—as did Japan, whose military leaders predicted an Armageddon in which "the Japanese were destined to lead Asia against the United States." Ironies abound in Maiolo's account. For one, the plan to build up the United States as a military-industrial power was drafted by an army officer named Dwight Eisenhower, who later warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex. For another, Germany never fully rearmed until well into WWII, in part because Hitler "never dedicated himself to hands-on administration," and his lieutenants spent too much time squabbling about who got which resources. In the end, writes the author, most of the nations that indulged in the arms race of the era wound up in smoke and ruins or nearly bankrupt.

A fruitful, timely work in an era of ever-increasing military spending.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465032297
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
12/04/2012
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Pages:
504
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author


Joseph Maiolo is Senior Lecturer in International History in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. The author of The Royal Navy and Nazi Germany, 1933-1939, he has won several awards, including the Julian Corbett Award in Modern Naval History.

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Cry Havoc: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931-1941 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing in it's details, in it's quality and it's handling of information. It had me flipping back and forth to compare between each nation and had me itching to take notes!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago