Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II

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Random House Publishing Group, May 8, 2012 - History - 432 pages
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • SELECTED BY THE ECONOMIST AS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

“A rambunctious book that is itself alive with the animal spirits of the marketplace.”—The Wall Street Journal

Freedom’s Forge reveals how two extraordinary American businessmen—General Motors automobile magnate  William “Big Bill” Knudsen and shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser—helped corral, cajole, and inspire business leaders across the country to mobilize the “arsenal of democracy” that propelled the Allies to victory in World War II. Drafting top talent from companies like Chrysler, Republic Steel, Boeing, Lockheed, GE, and Frigidaire, Knudsen and Kaiser turned auto plants into aircraft factories and civilian assembly lines into fountains of munitions. In four short years they transformed America’s army from a hollow shell into a truly global force, laying the foundations for the country’s rise as an economic as well as military superpower. Freedom’s Forge vividly re-creates American industry’s finest hour, when the nation’s business elites put aside their pursuit of profits and set about saving the world.

Praise for Freedom’s Forge

“A rarely told industrial saga, rich with particulars of the growing pains and eventual triumphs of American industry . . . Arthur Herman has set out to right an injustice: the loss, down history’s memory hole, of the epic achievements of American business in helping the United States and its allies win World War II.”The New York Times Book Review

“Magnificent . . . It’s not often that a historian comes up with a fresh approach to an absolutely critical element of the Allied victory in World War II, but Pulitzer finalist Herman . . . has done just that.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A compulsively readable tribute to ‘the miracle of mass production.’ ”Publishers Weekly

“The production statistics cited by Mr. Herman . . . astound.”The Economist

“[A] fantastic book.”Forbes

Freedom’s Forge is the story of how the ingenuity and energy of the American private sector was turned loose to equip the finest military force on the face of the earth. In an era of gathering threats and shrinking defense budgets, it is a timely lesson told by one of the great historians of our time.”—Donald Rumsfeld
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MugsyNoir - LibraryThing

A comprehensive overview of the ramp up of industrialization in the USA from a sleeping peace time economy to a roaring war time behemoth. Yes, it glorifies capitalism and industry at the expense of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jamespurcell - LibraryThing

Strongly biased towards a business perspective, particularly in his peroration. Still, a very compelling story about how American manufacturers ramped up to equip and support the US and its allies ... Read full review

Contents

PREFACE ix
7
Chapter One THE GENTLE GIANT
14
Chapter Two THE MASTER BUILDER
37
Chapter Three THE WORLD OF TOMORROW
58
BATTLE or KANSAS
304
Chapter Eighteen IIRE nus TIME
318
Conclusion RBCKDNING
334
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
347
NOTES
359
Chapter Seven SHIPS STRIKES AND THE BIG BOOK
369
Chapter Thirteen AGONY AT WILLOW
377
SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
387
INDEX 401
400
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Arthur Herman, visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of How the Scots Invented the Modern World, which has sold more than half a million copies worldwide. His most recent work, Gandhi & Churchill, was the 2009 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.

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