V Is For Victory: Franklin Roosevelt’s American Revolution and the Triumph of World War II (Scribner, 2023) by Craig Nelson takes a look at how FDR confronted an American public disinterested in going to war in Europe, skillfully won their support, and pushed government and American industry to build the greatest war machine in history, “the arsenal of democracy” that won the Second World War.
As Nazi Germany began to conquer Europe, America’s military was unprepared, too small, and poorly supplied. The Nazis were supported by robust German factories that created a seemingly endless flow of arms, trucks, tanks, airplanes, and submarines. The United States, emerging from the Great Depression, was skeptical of American involvement in Europe and not ready to wage war. Hardened isolationists predicted disaster if the country went to war.
In this deeply researched account, Craig Nelson traces how Franklin D. Roosevelt steadily and sometimes secretively put America on a war footing by convincing America’s top industrialists such as Henry Ford Jr. to retool their factories, by diverting the country’s supplies of raw materials to the war effort, and above all by convincing the American people to endure shortages, to work in wartime factories, and to send their sons into harm’s way.
Within a few years, the nation’s workers were producing thousands of airplanes and tanks, hundreds of warships and submarines. Under FDR’s resolute leadership, victory at land and sea and air across the globe began at home in America—a powerful and essential narrative largely overlooked in conventional histories of the war but which, in Nelson’s skilled, authoritative hands, becomes an illuminating and important work destined to become an American history classic.
Craig Nelson is the author of Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness and the New York Times bestseller, Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon, as well as several previous books, including The Age of Radiance (a PEN Award Finalist chosen as one of the year’s best books by NBC News, the American Institute of Physics, Kirkus Reviews, and FlavorWire), The First Heroes, Thomas Paine (winner of the Henry Adams Prize), and Let’s Get Lost (shortlisted for W.H. Smith’s Book of the Year). His writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal, Salon, National Geographic, The New England Review, Popular Science, Reader’s Digest, and a host of other publications.
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