Arsenal of Democracy: The Story of American War Production

Arsenal of Democracy: The Story of American War Production

Arsenal of Democracy: The Story of American War Production

Arsenal of Democracy: The Story of American War Production

Excerpt

MY REASON, OR APOLOGY, FOR WRITING THIS BOOK CAN BEST BE EXPLAINED as follows:

A chain of fortuitous circumstances placed me in a position from which I had a close-up view of American history in the making, at what may have been its most crucial period since the winter of Valley Forge. I was active in the earliest phases of the nation's defense production. Later, as Chairman of the War Production Board I was, of course, intimately associated with the development of the whole war production program. Thus I had a unique perspective of events that turned the tides of history and of personalities that turned the tides of events. It has seemed, to me that sharing these experiences with my fellow countrymen is almost an official imperative, and that I shall not have finished my job with the Government of the United States until I have given a public accounting of the stewardship that was entrusted to me by President Roosevelt.

What I saw, heard, and experienced is a vital part of American history, and I feel that I owe a report thereon to my fellow Americans-- that I should make my contribution to the overall story of the greatest war ever waged. Others, too, will make their contributions, and thus the vast and terrible panorama of World War II will be pieced together.

There are several topics that should be considered in this preface, although most of them will be amplified later in the book:

First, it should be made clear that the chairmanship of the War Production Board never was, and never could have been, a one-man job. As interpreted and executed by me, it was not the one-man job conceived by the President when the Board was created. The economic power vested in me at that time was potentially greater than that ever held by any other civilian, except a wartime President. The records will show that of my own initiative I shed controls and authorities not directly germane to my principal function (which was war production) as rapidly as I could be sure that they had been placed in competent hands. This was done not to escape responsibility, but to allocate . . .

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