Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ships for Victory

By Frederic C. Lane
881 Pages, Illus., soft cover.
ISBN: 0801867525, The John Hopkins University Press.
The great merchant fleets built under the United States Maritime Commission during World War II supplied the great battle for freedom through out the world. These ships were not built without problems and challenges.
Frederic C. Lane, an historian employed by the Maritime Commission covers the history of this spectacular organization in great detail. Lane’s examination of the issues confronting the Herculean tasks and challenges facing the Commission makes this book a must for all serious maritime or industrial historians.Lane began his employment with the Commission while a history professor at John Hopkins University. He was given full access to all the Commission’s files and had access to a great number of its World War II personalities.During the course of World War II the Commission built 5, 777 ships, which included LSTs, CVEs, Liberty and Victory types. The massive amount of shipbuilding was not without it’s huge problems and challenges.The research of Lane’s was astonishing detailed. He researched an organization that spanned all of America’s waterways. Lane included research on the various Labor unions, shipbuilding companies.The Chairman of the Maritime Commission during its war years was Admiral Emory Land. A naval officer, Admiral Land become the force behind the Commission which wed the various interested parties in producing the roughly 50 million deadweight tons of shipping in fight for freedom. Known as "L", the book ensures that Land’s legacy is given the respect that it is due.Discussed at great length throughout the tome, are all the human issues that had to be overcome, including racial strife, labor troubles, management interests, money flow, and shipyard owners. Lane covers these important issues in interesting detail.
Criticisms of Lane’s work are limited to the extensive coverage of all subject areas. The large number of areas could be large studies by themselves.This book without question is a "must have" for all those who study and enjoy the study of shipbuilding or industrial processes. Highly recommended. (RB)

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