“Arsenal of Democracy


A.J. Baime, an editor and journalist, has recently written “Arsenal of Democracy:  FDR, Detroit, and Arming America During World War II.”  Baime was interviewed on the “Leonard Lopate Show” on NPR on Monday, June 23.  Even though there must be thousands of books that have been written on World War II, “Arsenal of Democracy” focuses on how the US geared up militarily even before the war began.  This is a story of American industry that was coming out of the Great Depression and how it regrouped to meet the military needs of the Allies.  It is also the story of the relationship between FDR and Henry Ford, and Henry Ford and his son Edsel and Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford.  The Fords and Lindbergh will play important roles in building American industry after Pearl Harbor.

In the light of the fact that non-fiction circulation figures are low, this is a book that we probably won’t buy.  But for anyone who has an interest in this period of American history, this well-researched book is one to be recommended.  It is a story of the movers and shakers and how the US mobilized industrially and militarily to win the war.  Beime’s portrayal of Edsel Ford, a son probably overshadowed by his father, as a man who applied the principles of building motor cars to airplanes.  The forward thinking Edsel Ford helped build the largest aircraft factory in order to build the largest airplane in the largest numbers.  The B24 Liberator was the plane that was constantly redesigned to become a better aircraft.  Through Edsel’s efforts it became the workhorse of the aircraft industry.

An interesting book that adds to our understanding of a period of time and the men who shaped our history.

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