Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Published by
Houghton Mifflin (2014-06-03)
Original language
Politics & government


FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War

by Baime, A.J.

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.

A. J. BAIME is the author of GO LIKE HELL (currently in development as a major motion picture by 20th Century Fox) and the forthcoming THE ARSENAL OF DEMOCRACY. He is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and an editor at large at Playboy magazine. VISIT A.J. at...

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Ronit Zafran

Available View on Rightsdesk


Accessible, surprising history . . . Forthright and absorbing.

Review: Publishers Weekly

Edsel Ford has deserved a better legacy, and A.J. Baime has given it to him . . . The Arsenal of Democracy is a touching and absorbing portrait of one of the forgotten heroes of World War II . . . A.J. Baime has given us a memorable portrait not just of an industry going to war but of a remarkable figure who helped to make victory possible.

Review: Wall Street Journal

Fast-moving and rich with detail, Baime's book shows how the Fords worked a World War II miracle with rivets and steel. Engrossing.

Quote: Stephan Talty

A.J. Baime has a great way of telling a story. We didn't just win World War II because we had the best soldiers.We did it because we could build airplanes literally faster than the Germans could shoot them down. An exciting read.

Quote: Jay Leno

A.J. Baime’s prose is an amazing magic lantern shining through the flawed, frustrating and mesmerizing lives of an epic cast of characters; FDR; the anti-semitic Henry Ford; his gargoyle of a henchman Harry Bennett; the workers who would become America’s middle class; and, as well, Henry’s tragic son, Edsel, who lost his health and, ultimately, his life, trying to make good on his promise to deliver a "bomber an hour" during WWII. This is captivating history told at its most intimate level of detail; at the same time, Baime’s scope is grand and humane, even when he is bringing to life the most inhumane of people or moments. An engrossing, highly researched page-turner.

Quote: Doug Stanton


Quote: Salon

When you talk the history of Detroit, it's usually the stuff about beavers, the Model T, the '57 Chevy, the '67 riots and bankruptcy. But what A.J. Baime has done with a precise and entertaining pen is resurrect Detroit's most important era - WWII - and the obscure and tortured man who may have saved the world.

Quote: Charlie LeDuff

Baime explains FDR's wartime strategy and how Detroit became an economic powerhouse, and ultimately a modern tragedy.

Review: The Take Away

Wars are fought on many fronts, and A.J. Baime chronicles this little known, but terrifically important battle to build America's bomber force with narrative zest and delicious detail. Put simply, it's a great read.

Quote: Neal Bascomb

More like this