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Book Review

‘The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War’


The timeframe of this book is the World War II years, the main characters are Henry Ford and his son, Edsel Ford, and the story is how the retooling of the manufacturing might of Detroit, so critically important to the winning of the war, was accomplished.

 By A.J. Baime Mariner Books May 5, 2015 Paperback $14.95 400 pages

By A.J. Baime
Mariner Books
May 5, 2015
Paperback $14.95
400 pages

Henry Ford was anti-war, anti-Semitic and anti-union.  He was not easily convinced that his business was needed to start arming America for the coming war.  His anti-Semitic views were well known and he went so far as to buy a newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, to spread his views.  And the author details how Henry Ford and his associate, Harry Bennett, went about thwarting efforts at unionizing the Ford Motor Company.

The difficult relationship of Henry Ford and his son, Edsel, is a major part of this book.  Henry Ford kept Edsel out of World War I (something Edsel did not repeat with his sons), and his father kept him from having full control of the company except in name.  Edsel and the great Ford manager and engineer Charlie “Cast Iron” Sorensen worked together in guiding the company to produce the B-24 Liberator bomber.  Sorensen conceived the design of the bomber plant at Willow Run, where, at Henry Ford’s insistence, the plant was built in an L shape to avoid building in a county that voted “too Democratic.” Edsel made the outrageous promise that Ford would produce a “bomber an hour,” a promise that he was unable to see come true before he died, but a goal that was reached in 1945.

Mr. Baime has written a most engaging narrative of an extremely important part of World War II. CV


Harriet Leitch retired to enjoy her grandchildren, garden, dogs, flute and to return to her love of books.

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