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A Call to Arms: Mobilizing America for World War II    by Maury Klein order for
Call to Arms
by Maury Klein
Order:  USA  Can
Bloomsbury, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Over 800 pages in length, A Call to Arms: Mobilizing America for World War II by Maury Klein investigates the military-industrial response to gearing up to fight the war.

It would be a gross understatement to say that the United States was far from prepared to engage in an international conflict of this magnitude when Hitler and Mussolini began their rampage in Europe and Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

In 1939 the country had a fleet of 15 battleships and about 1,700 planes in the Army air force. Realizing there was a tremendous need to supply not only American forces but also the country's allies with every type of armament from rifles and jeeps to ships and airplanes, the country mobilized.

The result was truly amazing. By 1945 U.S. factories had churned out 325,000 planes alone. At the peak of production a B-24 bomber was rolling off the assembly line at the rate of one an hour.

That was only part of the story. In four years American defense plants produced 88,000 tanks, 320 destroyers, 200 submarines and over two million machineguns. Although the forces opposing the U.S. and her allies might have had superior armament at times, Germany and Japan could not match this output.

More than anything else, it was the tsunami of men and machines that America contributed to the war effort that ultimately turned the tide of battle.

But beyond winning the war, this vast war effort also had a profound affect on the nation's history in other ways. The American economy, society and landscape were forever changed.

Small towns in California which produced ships and planes became industrial centers and hundreds of thousands of people moved to these areas. Women became an integral part of the workforce, there was a shift in the population with many workers leaving the south to work in the factories of the west and north, and the war mobilization brought an end to the Great Depression.

The American GDP soared from 800 billion dollars in 1938 to 1.4 trillion just four years later. When the war ended, the industrial might that won the conflict was turned to peacetime purposes and launched an unprecedented time of prosperity for the country.

Calling this 'one of the most important stories in our history', economic historian Maury Klein tells the story of this remarkable period from 1940 to 1945. In a very readable narrative, Klein charts this extraordinary period and the personalities who made it happen. Those interested in history will find this a fascinating book. It reads so well that the pages will just seem to melt away once you are into the first couple of chapters.

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