“What is America but beauty queens, millionaires, stupid records, and Hollywood?” asked Adolf Hitler in 1940. As Arthur Herman shows in his wartime history, when Hitler mocked its prowess America had experienced not so much a double-dip as a double-dive depression. Yet, somehow the country’s moribund military–industrial complex was able to respond with great force to President Franklin Roosevelt’s call to arms. By the end of 1942, America’s output of war material already exceeded the combined production of the three Axis powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan. By 1944, its factories built a plane every five minutes, while its shipyards launched 50 merchant ships a day and eight aircraft carriers a month.
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