Academic journal article Military Review

CRY HAVOC: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931-1941

Academic journal article Military Review

CRY HAVOC: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931-1941

Article excerpt

CRY HAVOC: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931-1941, Joseph Maiolo, Basic Books/Perseus Books Group, New York, 2010, 473 pages, $38.00.

The enormous demand for munitions during World War I caused production problems for all nations involved in the conflict. After the war, many professional soldiers and some politicians advocated a centrally directed economy, like that developed in the Soviet Union, as the only way to wage industrial warfare. The apparent failure of capitalism during the Great Depression only reinforced this argument.

Joseph Maiolo, a professor at Kings College, London, has chosen to examine this issue as a unifying theme for his book, Cry Havoc, whose lurid title and the early chapters, describing manipulative financiers such as Hjalmar Schacht of Germany, bring to mind Upton Sinclair novels warning of manufacturers selling unwanted weapons. However, Maiolo's real concern is not the weapons themselves but how they were produced. The author argues that manufacturers and democratic politicians were on the political defensive because totalitarian command economies appeared to outperform pluralistic capitalist states. Certainly, the French and British waited until war was upon them to increase governmental control of their economies.

In fact, the totalitarian states, especially Germany, had competing bureaucratic groups that prevented effective economic organization. Moreover, with the exception of the United States, no state had both the raw materials and machine tools it needed for maximum production, forcing government compromises about production priorities and allocation of foreign currencies. …

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