Reviews for Engineers of Victory : The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War


Booklist Reviews 2012 October #2
There's a simple explanation for the result of World War II: the Allies marshalled more military power than the Axis. While true, Professor Kennedy, the eminent author of many popular histories, would grade that explanation "incomplete." He places a fuller interpretation on the chronological fulcrum of the global conflict, 1943, when Germany and Japan bestrode most of their conquered territories and seas, their armed forces battered but dangerous. For the Allies, someone had to devise applications of superior strength to numerous technical and strategic problems, and Kennedy elaborates five interlocking narratives of who these individuals were and what they did. Concerning amphibious landings, Kennedy elides pre-war planners of such operations with wartime designers of landing craft; ditto with theoreticians and practitioners of air power, supremacy in which was critical for the success of any invasion from sea. When Kennedy dwells on weapons like the P-51 fighter, the T-34 tank, or the Essex-class aircraft carrier, he treats them less as war-winning icons than as data for his ideas about running organizations, WWII being his case study. High authorial eminence ensures attention from the WWII readership. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Booklist Reviews 2012 December #1
There's a simple explanation for the result of WWII: the Allies marshaled more military power than the Axis. Although that is true, Professor Kennedy, the eminent author of many popular histories, would grade that explanation "incomplete." He places a fuller interpretation on the chronological fulcrum of the global conflict: 1943. That's when Germany and Japan bestrode most of their conquered territories and seas, their armed forces battered but dangerous. For the Allies, someone had to devise applications of superior strength to numerous technical and strategic problems, and Kennedy elaborates five interlocking narratives of those individuals and what they did. Concerning amphibious landings, Kennedy elides prewar planners of such operations with wartime designers of landing craft; ditto with theoreticians and practitioners of air power, supremacy in which was critical for the success of any invasion from the sea. When Kennedy dwells on weapons like the Essex-class aircraft carrier, he treats them less as war-winning icons than as data for his ideas about running organizations, WWII being his case study. High authorial eminence ensures attention from the WWII readership. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 October #2
Kennedy (The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present and Future of the United Nations, 2006, etc.) presents what he calls "a new way of treating that epic conflict," World War II. The author begins with the agenda and priorities of the 1943 Casablanca Conference, and his inquiry traces the interrelationships among strategic decision-making, the accomplishment of the five major tasks identified by conference attendees, and the capacities and weapons systems that made the achievement of the goals possible. The aim was to overcome obstacles to the successful invasion of Western Europe, with five ranked top priorities: winning the battle against U-boats in the North Atlantic, securing control of the airspace over Europe, developing ways to counter the Nazi blitzkrieg, learning how to coordinate landings and establish secure beachheads on enemy-held coastlines, and mastering the technology and skills required to coordinate and fight combined arms warfare over thousands of miles. Kennedy's fine-grained analysis and suspicion of any one single cause--like cipher cracking, intelligence and deception operations, or specific weapons systems, like the Soviet T-34 tank--permit him to persuasively array his supporting facts. He discusses key elements in each of the five areas and the commonalities among the different global theaters of war. The succession of accomplishments highlights the special importance of control of the air. Kennedy rebuts those who argue that the second front could have been opened in 1943, by showing what was learned from the succession of amphibious landings and their impact on the D-Day preparations and ultimate success. The author introduces many individuals whose inventions and capacities contributed profoundly. An absorbing new approach to a well-worked field. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews 2011 October #1

Master historian Kennedy dates his coverage of World War II from January 1943, when the Allies convened at the Casablanca Conference to plan their European strategy. But he's not interested in an overview. Instead, he wants to show us how the Allies actually executed the war, moving men and matériel into place in a demonstration of the organizational prowess that finally facilitated D-Day. This should be unimpeachable reading for those passionate about World War II and military history generally.

[Page 58]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #2

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. (Jan.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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