Freedom's forge: how American business built the arsenal of democracy that won World War II - Herman, Arthur
Summary: Assesses the pivotal role of American big business in building weapons and enabling industrial dominance for Allied forces in World War II, tracing the contributions of Danish immigrant William Knudsen and shipbuilding industrialist Henry Kaiser. - (Baker & Taylor)
A narrative of America's industrial mobilization for WWII, Herman's history heroizes two business executives at the center of affairs, Henry Kaiser, builder of the Liberty ships, and William Knudsen, president of General Motors. While Kaiser's hyperkinetic flamboyance lingers in the recognition his name still provokes in WWII readers, the more effacing Knudsen, Herman makes clear, was the critical character. An expert in organizing assembly lines, Knudsen was tapped by FDR in 1940 to convert consumer into military production, which he initiated through private enterprises. New Dealers who wanted the government, not big business, to direct mobilization nominally won in early 1942 by ousting Knudsen and establishing the War Production Board. But Knudsen's profit-motive template had momentum and prevailed, as Herman dramatizes in the manufacturing setups for such weapons as the B-24 and B-29 bombers, Sherman tanks, and aircraft carriers. What with the millions of workers needed to build them, Rosie the Riveter included, swarming factory floor and shipyard, Herman's story will resonate with readers whose parents and grandparents won the war with a welding torch. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.