Monday, November 27, 2006

Home Front USA: America During World War II

Home Front USA: America During World War II by Allan M. Winkler (2000) discusses, as its title suggests, the American home front during WWII. It includes four chapters covering The Arsenal of Democracy (the mobilization of the country for war), American Society at War, Outsiders and Ethnic Groups, and The Politics of War. The author thoroughly researched the topic, and supports topics and positions with references.

My Rating: Good (***)

Strategies Identified:

  1. Eliminate risk to obtain results. The Government assumed all risk to ensure that industry would design and produce the war materials needed. A cost-plus-a-fixed system was put in place. Shipbuilder Henry Kaiser reduced the time to build a ship from 355 days in 1941 to 56 days, and even built a ship in 14 days.
  2. Centralization and concentration produce better production capabilities. Large firms have labor pools, assembly lines, research staffs, and priority access to production material since they purchase large quantities. After two months of the war, there were 200,000 fewer employers, over 1/2 million small businesses failed, and 300,000 retailers closed. Large firms became larger. 100 companies accounted for 70% of the nation's defense production.
  3. Deficit spending will take a stalled economy and spur it into improvement (Keynesian economic theory). The stalled post depression economy was rescued by defense spending which brought prosperity. A year after Pearl Harbor, the US economy was producing more than all its enemies combined.
  4. Use the media and patriotism to allow ownership to reap profits at the expense of the workers. 87% of the public had a low opinion of the United Mine Workers. Unions were forced to strike (which was illegal during the war) for fair wage increases and appeared to be anti-troops by impeding war production.
  5. Find ways to attach products to distribution channels. Robert Woodruff, head of Coca-Cola, convinced the army and navy that Coke was an essential drink for the troops and therefore succeeded in placing it wherever soldiers were deployed. This eventually led to the international demand for the product. Philip Wrigley did the same, by adding a stick of gum to every K ration package and using his own plants to pack the containers.
  6. Propaganda gains support for the government's priorities. The US "conveyed its wartime goals through an organized propaganda program ... that focused on securing support both at home and abroad." (p. 32)

Buy "Home Front USA: America During WWII"

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