The Arsenal of Democracy

The Arsenal of Democracy

FDR, Detroit, and An Epic Quest to Arm An America at War

Book - 2014
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A New York Times Bestseller

A dramatic, intimate narrative of how Ford Motor Company went from making automobiles to producing the airplanes that would mean the difference between winning and losing World War II. In 1941, as Hitler's threat loomed ever larger, President Roosevelt realized he needed weaponry to fight the Nazis--most important, airplanes--and he needed them fast. So he turned to Detroit and the auto industry for help.

The Arsenal of Democracy tells the incredible story of how Detroit answered the call, centering on Henry Ford and his tortured son Edsel, who, when asked if they could deliver 50,000 airplanes, made an outrageous claim: Ford Motor Company would erect a plant that could yield a "bomber an hour." Critics scoffed: Ford didn't make planes; they made simple, affordable cars. But bucking his father's resistance, Edsel charged ahead. Ford would apply assembly-line production to the American military's largest, fastest, most destructive bomber; they would build a plant vast in size and ambition on a plot of farmland and call it Willow Run; they would bring in tens of thousands of workers from across the country, transforming Detroit, almost overnight, from Motor City to the "great arsenal of democracy." And eventually they would help the Allies win the war.

Drawing on exhaustive research from the Ford Archives, the National Archives, and the FDR Library, A. J. Baime has crafted an enthralling, character-driven narrative of American innovation that has never been fully told, leaving readers with a vivid new portrait of America--and Detroit--during the war.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
ISBN: 9780547719283
Characteristics: xviii, 364 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


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Sep 10, 2018

The title is a bit misleading - the real content here is a case study in how FDR and Detroit (specifically, the Ford motor company and the extended Ford family, and their extensive B-24 Liberator plant) helped the United States overpower the military might of Nazi Germany. The story is no less compelling.

Aug 02, 2018

This book is fantastic - it reads like a riveting novel, but, it is true! I never realized the extent of the "backstory" of FDR's America being "The Arsenal of Democracy."

May 13, 2018

A reminder that the "greatest generation" was not as simple as the history books make it seem.

Nov 10, 2015

This book is less about the role of Detroit as the arsenal of democracy, and more about the discord between Edsel Ford and his father, Henry, and Harry Bennett (head of the Service Department). Notwithstanding this point, the book is a real page turner and is well written and researched. Definitely worth a read if you are interested in military history.

Aug 27, 2015

Great read!

Jun 16, 2014

A very good book.


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