As most historians tell it, America won World War II because of massive government sponsorship and central economic direction. In his new book, “Freedom’s Forge,” best-selling author Arthur Herman argues that narrative has the real story backward, an argument he reiterated in an event Monday evening at AEI.
When American factories converted during WWII from making washing machines to making war materials, they were not simply responding to top-down orders; instead, they were meeting the challenge before them. Herman traced the remarkable mobilization of American industry, technology and materiel production over the course of WWII, describing how William S. Knudsen and other American businessmen, engineers, production managers and workers provided the industrial muscle that pulled the United States out of the lingering Great Depression and pushed the Allies on to victory.
It was business innovation, not big government, Herman argued, that fueled America’s rearmament and victory. By keeping New Deal Washington out of business’s way, America experienced an explosion of creativity, innovation and productive capacity never before seen in history.
— Emily Batman
In “Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II,” Pulitzer Prize finalist Arthur Herman describes how the U.S. won history’s greatest conflict by harnessing free market principles and private-sector creativity and innovation to increase war production. Dubbed “magnificent,” “powerful” and “a fresh approach” by Kirkus Reviews and “compulsively readable” by Publisher’s Weekly, “Freedom’s Forge” is a stirring tribute to the power of American business and free enterprise — and to the Greatest Generation that created the weapons that made America a superpower.
Herman — a visiting scholar at AEI— will speak on the themes of his book, and its lessons for America’s future. A book signing and reception will follow.
Henry Olsen, AEI
Arthur Herman, AEI
Book Signing and Wine and Cheese Reception
Event Contact Information
For more information, please contact Brad Wassink at [email protected], 202-862-7197.
Media Contact Information
For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at [email protected], 202.862.4871.
Arthur Herman is a historian and author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist “Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age” (Bantam, 2008), the Mountbatten Prize-nominated “To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World” (HarperCollins, 2005), the New York Times bestseller “How the Scots Invented the Modern World” (Three Rivers Press, 2001), and many articles on foreign and military policy. At AEI, he has authored a new book that traces the mobilization of American industry, technology and material production over the course of World War II.
Henry Olsen, a lawyer by training, is the director of AEI’s National Research Initiative. In that capacity, he identifies leading academics and public intellectuals who work in an aspect of domestic public policy and recruits them to visit or write for AEI. Olsen studies and writes about the policy and political implications of long-term trends in social, economic and political thought.