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Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World Warby Paul Kennedy
Synopses & Reviews
Paul Kennedy, award-winning author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers and one of today’s most renowned historians, now provides a new and unique look at how World War II was won. Engineers of Victory is a fascinating nuts-and-bolts account of the strategic factors that led to Allied victory. Kennedy reveals how the leaders’ grand strategy was carried out by the ordinary soldiers, scientists, engineers, and businessmen responsible for realizing their commanders’ visions of success.
In January 1943, FDR and Churchill convened in Casablanca and established the Allied objectives for the war: to defeat the Nazi blitzkrieg; to control the Atlantic sea lanes and the air over western and central Europe; to take the fight to the European mainland; and to end Japan’s imperialism. Astonishingly, a little over a year later, these ambitious goals had nearly all been accomplished. With riveting, tactical detail, Engineers of Victory reveals how.
Kennedy recounts the inside stories of the invention of the cavity magnetron, a miniature radar “as small as a soup plate,” and the Hedgehog, a multi-headed grenade launcher that allowed the Allies to overcome the threat to their convoys crossing the Atlantic; the critical decision by engineers to install a super-charged Rolls-Royce engine in the P-51 Mustang, creating a fighter plane more powerful than the Luftwaffe’s; and the innovative use of pontoon bridges (made from rafts strung together) to help Russian troops cross rivers and elude the Nazi blitzkrieg. He takes readers behind the scenes, unveiling exactly how thousands of individual Allied planes and fighting ships were choreographed to collectively pull off the invasion of Normandy, and illuminating how crew chiefs perfected the high-flying and inaccessible B-29 Superfortress that would drop the atomic bombs on Japan.
The story of World War II is often told as a grand narrative, as if it were fought by supermen or decided by fate. Here Kennedy uncovers the real heroes of the war, highlighting for the first time the creative strategies, tactics, and organizational decisions that made the lofty Allied objectives into a successful reality. In an even more significant way, Engineers of Victory has another claim to our attention, for it restores “the middle level of war” to its rightful place in history.
"Kennedy takes a fresh and stimulating approach to the history of WWII in his latest, wherein he focuses on the war's middle years and its middle level: the implementation of strategies, doctrines, and policies as devised by Churchill and FDR in Casablanca in January 1943 and carried out into 1944. Before the North African conference, the Anglo-American alliance had not mounted decisive operations against the Axis powers. Five operational obstacles were in the way: 'get convoys safely across the Atlantic,' 'win command of the air, 'stop the Nazi blitzkrieg,' securing and developing a European beachhead, and defeating Japan quickly and economically. In as many chapters, Kennedy (The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers) demonstrates how, over the course of 18 months, the U.K. and the U.S. developed and implemented a system for addressing these problems pragmatically and focused on incremental progress. This process worked through a 'culture of encouragement' based on 'feedback loops' connecting all levels of planning and execution among the Allies, while allowing freedom to experiment, explore ideas, and cross institutional boundaries. Thus were intentions transformed to realities; thus was the tide of war turned. B&w photos, maps." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Paul Kennedy is internationally known for his writings and commentaries on global political, economic, and strategic issues. He earned his B.S. at Newcastle University and his doctorate at the University of Oxford. He is a former Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung Foundation, Bonn. He is on the editorial board of numerous scholarly journals and writes for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and many foreign-language newspapers and magazines. Kennedy is the author and editor of nineteen books, including The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, which has been translated into more than twenty languages, and Preparing for the Twenty-first Century. He helped draft a report for an international commission on “The United Nations in Its Second Half-Century,” which was prepared for the fiftieth anniversary UN debate on how to improve the world organization.
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Engineering » Engineering » History