Keep From All Thoughtful Men: How U.S. Economists Won World War IIby James G. Lacey
This ground-breaking work overturns accepted historical dogma on how World War II strategy was planned and implemented. Refuting the long-accepted notion that the avalanche of munitions which poured forth from American factories defeated the Axis powers, it examines exactly how this miracle of production was organized and integrated into Allied strategy and operations… See more details below
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This ground-breaking work overturns accepted historical dogma on how World War II strategy was planned and implemented. Refuting the long-accepted notion that the avalanche of munitions which poured forth from American factories defeated the Axis powers, it examines exactly how this miracle of production was organized and integrated into Allied strategy and operations. In doing so, it is the first book to show how revolutions in statistics and finance forever changed the nature of war, overturning three millennia of the making of grand strategy. Jim Lacey argues that manpower and the capacity to produce more munitions gave out long before the money did.
While the book relates the overall story of how economics dictated war planning at the highest levels, more specifically it tells how three obscure economists came to have more influence on the conduct of the war than the Joint Chiefs. Lacey further contends that the nation s basic strategy, known as the Victory Plan, had nothing to do with Gen. Albert Wedemeyer, despite the general s widely accepted claims that he formulated the plan. The author also is the first to correct to a long-standing fallacy that Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Marshall went to the Casablanca conference determined to push hard for a 1943 invasion of Northern Europe. A check of the conference minutes proved that the Army s official history purposely left out important information or misquoted the principals, according to Lacey, and that the idea of a 1943 invasion had been given up months before. He also makes extensive use of recently uncovered documents and histories written by members of the Joint staff that Lacey discovered misfiled in the National Archives. This first full study of the civil-military fight offers an entirely new perspective of World War II.
- Naval Institute Press
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For the medicine cats. Other med cats and Farrah teach them.
The author in the opening pages vividly and compellingly argues for the importance of studying economic aspects of war. From resource abundance to resource utilization to the financing of war: these are key factors in determining wars' outcomes. World War II of course was no exception. The book's descriptions and introduction however don't convey to the prospective reader that the true subject of the book is not so much economic planning as the US's planning (or lack thereof) through 1941 and, once the war started, the decision to postpone the invasion of Europe from 1943 to 1944, due to insufficient military resources having been accumulated. Moroever, economists had been able to estimate that timeline in late 1941, when the military planners (according to this book) were either clueless or disinterested (and when the US entered the war, were still unable to do proper planning/synchronization of military needs and economic resources). The reader will gain an appreciation for the importance of economic principles in the waging of war, and for the planning (or lack thereof) that the US engaged in prior to and during the first half of WW II. But it's a narrow topic, with the key players being mostly unrecognizable names (although economists will recognize and appreciate Simon Kuznets' contributions). The author tries to make the narrative exciting and interesting, but the material is inherently dry and the authors' writing skills are not up to the challenge. His explanations of the more complex economic topics lack clarity; at one point I re-read a paragraph six times and still could not figure out what the author was trying to say. When I read the next paragraph I finally realized that he was trying to describe what economists call "monetizing the debt". I don't criticize the author for failing to use that phrase -- it would be useful only to a reader who was an economist or an advanced economics students -- but I do criticize the author for failing to provide a clear explanation for the lay reader. Thankfully most of the book doesn't require explanations of complex phenomena and the author conveys them clearly enough.