Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Bridge of Ships


A Bridge of Ships
Canadian Shipbuilding during the Second World War
James Pritchard
A ground-breaking work about the challenges and achievements of creating Canada's largest shipbuilding industry ever.
Cloth (0773538240) 9780773538245 Release date: 2011-05-20 CA $59.95  |  US $59.95 
8.5x10 464pp 45 tables

Before 1939, Canada's shipbuilding industry had been moribund for nearly two decades - no steel-hulled, ocean-going vessel had been built since 1921. During the Second World War, however, Canada's shipbuilding program became a major part of the nation's industrial effort. Shipyards were expanded and more than a thousand warships and cargo ships were constructed as well as many more thousands of auxiliary vessels, small boats, and other craft. A large ship-repair program also began.
In A Bridge of Ships James Pritchard tells the story of the rapidly changing circumstances and forceful personalities that shaped government shipbuilding policy. He examines the ownership and expansion of the shipyards and the role of ship repairing, as well as recruitment and training of the labour force. He also tells the story of the struggle for steel and the expansion of ancillary industries. Pritchard provides a definitive picture of Canada's wartime ship production, assesses the cost (more than $1.2 billion), and explains why such an enormous effort left such a short-lived legacy.
The story of Canada's shipbuilding industry is as astonishing as that of the nation's wartime navy. The personnel of both expanded more than fifty times, yet the history of wartime shipbuilding remains virtually unknown. With the disappearance of the Canadian shipbuilding industry from both the land and memory, it is time to recall and assess its contribution to Allied victory.
This book is a fairly exhaustive history and the author is commended for taking on this daunting task. Shipbuilding and repair is covered from a political, labor and economic perspective.

The only real complaint I have with the book is the author's unfamiliarity with naval weapons which are often confused in the text. Apart from that, the book is highly recommended.

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