Book Reviews -- Forth to the Mighty Conflict: Alabama and World War II by Allen Cronenberg
Rogers, William Warren, National Forum
ALLEN CRONENBERG. Forth To the Mighty Conflict: Alabama and World War II. Tuscaloosa & London: The University of Alabama Press, 1995. 220 pages. $29.95
Professor Allen Cronenberg of Auburn University has written a lively, well-documented study of Alabama during World War II. With a subject so large, bogging down in detail or neglecting some topic at the expense of another would have been easy, but the author has avoided such pitfalls. The result is an intelligently organized, balanced monograph depicting conditions in Alabama and the role of its citizens -- women and men -- in a time of military crisis unknown since the Civil War. The reader (the book will appeal to general readers and scholars alike) is provided the added benefit of having the state story placed in the context of national and world events.
The first of Professor Cronenberg's twelve chapters describes an Alabama on the eve of the war, painfully emerging from the Great Depression. He switches to a discussion of national events that propelled the United States into the conflict, and then returns to Alabama to detail events on the home front during the war. Rationing, blackouts, bond drives, victory gardens, shortages, scrap metal collecting -- all and more are deftly handled. One chapter is devoted to the state's military camps. The writer shows the important contributions made to the Army Air corps by Maxwell and Gunter air fields in Montgomery, Craig field in Selma, and Napier field near Dothan. Many foreign pilots received their instruction at these places. He also provides a solid interpretation of the training provided to future black combat pilots at Tuskegee Army Air Field and of the leadership of Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Other chapters succinctly show the importance of Alabama's industrial contributions (plants and arsenals, shipbuilding, munitions factories) and the subsequent booms in such cities as Birmingham, Gadsden, Huntsville, Talladega, Childersburg, and especially Mobile. …