Wednesday’s Book Review: “Warfare State: World War II Americans and the Age of Big Government”

Roger Launius's Blog

warfare-stateWarfare State: World War II Americans and the Age of Big Government. By James T. Sparrow. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

This book has a simple, but elegant, thesis: The author challenges the longstanding belief that FDR’s New Deal, an effort to mitigate the suffering of the Great Depression, ushered in the age of “big government” in the United States. Instead, James T. Sparrow asserts that the New Deal was a modest effort with confined results that lasted only a short time. What truly refocused the America nation was the effort to win the Second World War, setting in place a massive government apparatus ten times the size of the New Deal’s welfare programs.

This seemingly permanent transformation of the United States discussed in Warfare State not only demonstrates the how and why of FDR’s vast expansion of the federal government during World War II; its most important contribution…

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