The Arsenal of Democracy

  • by A. J. Baime
  • Narrated by Peter Berkrot
  • 11 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A New York Times best seller.
A dramatic, intimate narrative of how Ford Motor Company went from making automobiles to producing the airplanes that would mean the difference between winning and losing World War II. In 1941, as Hitler’s threat loomed ever larger, President Roosevelt realized he needed weaponry to fight the Nazis - most important, airplanes - and he needed them fast. So he turned to Detroit and the auto industry for help. The Arsenal of Democracy tells the incredible story of how Detroit answered the call, centering on Henry Ford and his tortured son Edsel, who, when asked if they could deliver 50,000 airplanes, made an outrageous claim: Ford Motor Company would erect a plant that could yield a "bomber an hour". Critics scoffed: Ford didn’t make planes; they made simple, affordable cars. But bucking his father’s resistance, Edsel charged ahead. Ford would apply assembly-line production to the American military’s largest, fastest, most destructive bomber; they would build a plant vast in size and ambition on a plot of farmland and call it Willow Run; they would bring in tens of thousands of workers from across the country, transforming Detroit, almost overnight, from Motor City to the “great arsenal of democracy.” And eventually they would help the Allies win the war. Drawing on exhaustive research from the Ford Archives, the National Archives, and the FDR Library, A. J. Baime has crafted an enthralling, character-driven narrative of American innovation that has never been fully told, leaving readers with a vivid new portrait of America - and Detroit - during the war.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Misleading title

What made the experience of listening to The Arsenal of Democracy the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed the book but the title was very misleading. The book should be renamed Ford Motor Company in WWII. There was very little about any other Company switching from civilian production to war production or the changes this brought. This is the story of Edsel and Henry Ford II developing the Willow Run plant to build B-24 bombers and eventually achieving their goal of producing a bomber a day. This is not the story of how American industry converted to build the tanks, planes and bombs that won the war. Nor is the story about the great migration of people from rural areas to large urban areas to work in the war factories and the changes this brought.

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- CA "paperless office maven"

Tough Review to Write

I thought it was a well researched, organized and thoughtful work. Most of the time, I thought the narrator did a credible job. But, at times I couldn't figure out why he did what he did. Best example. He consistently referred to FDR as Rooooooooosevelt. Almost to the point of rubbing it in. I know that's how Teddy's branch pronounced it but in 50 years of studying history, I've never heard the Franklin branch referred to as anything other Rose-a-velt. It got in the way. Also, he ascribed accents and speech patterns that certainly don't fit. In one conversation, Edsel Ford breaks into what I guess was supposed to be a southern accent. Why? Other places, many of them in fact, he was channeling James Cagney playing a depression era gangster. Some drama can be good but gratuitous mispronunciation bugs me to no end. He's good but would be so much better if he stopped trying to be someone he's not or gave up trying to force feed us a pronunciation that we've heard differently for our entire lines.
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- John

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-28-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios