Monday, July 13, 2009

How America Saved the World: The Untold Story of U.S. Preparedness Between the World Wars by Eric Hammel

For a complete list on the books availible by the author you can visit

The Review:

How is it that within months of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that the United States was capable of projecting powerful naval, amphibious, and aerial campaigns to counter German and Japanese aggression? In "How America Saved the World", by Eric Hammel, asserts that it was the culmination of years of planning that had begun in the late part of the 1930s. This book is an incredible look at how America prepared for war though acts of Congress; industrial preparation; and organizational changes throughout the military.

In very simplistic terms, a national security strategy lays out a nation's objectives to accomplish in its global role. One of those pieces of the national security strategy is the role of the military in achieving those objectives. The defense budget will then allow the military to recruit service-members, procure weapons, and operate bases to achieve those objectives. Hammel masterfully lays out the strategic environment of the time, documenting both the Japanese and German aspirations at the time. These aspirations led to aggressive acts against American allies. Hammel identifies these key events and analyzes how they in turn forced the American national strategy to evolve from one of "isolationism" to active defense to active offense.

Along with the political evolutions, Hammel masterfully integrates applicable military revolutions that were occurring in strategy, doctrine, doctrine, and equipment (e.g. DOTMPFL for the layman) for each of the services. In the era of declining defense budgets, it was interesting to read how each of the services responded to the challenges.

As a nation prepares for war, the industrial base must be ready to manufacture the machines, weapons, munitions, and support equipment to fight. Hammel identifies the key players and events that helped the American industrial base have the necessary materiel in place to fight the war in 1942.

The other key element to national strategy is diplomacy. Hammel analyzes events such as those that led to legislative actions such as the evocation, modification, and rescission of the "Neutrality Acts"; and passage of the "Lend/Lease Act". On the diplomatic front, he also reviews lesser known actions involving the defense of Iceland and Greenland. Hammel also discusses the destroyer for basing deal between Britain and the United States.

From an Air Force perspective, the book is an excellent complement to Richard Overy's "The Air War: 1939-1945 (Potomac Books' Cornerstones of Military History series)". This is an outstanding book that analyzes the national actions that today would be called a national security strategy. It is outstanding, in that it is written in a conversational style making it a relatively easy read for such heavy topics.

Reviewed by: Major Joel Rudy, USAF

Joel Rudy is an active duty Air Force major who has served more than sixteen years in various assignments.

He has served as an instructor; a flight commander; at staff assignments at HQ US European Command, and the Air Staff; and as the director of operations for a deployed communications squadron.

Joel is currently serving as the acquisition manager for the Air Force's entire communications procurement portfolio.

During his daily commute into Washington, DC, you can find him on a Metrobus with his nose buried in a book.

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