Engineers of Victory by Paul Kennedy
The Problem Solvers Who Turned The Tide in the Second World War

84%

11 Critic Reviews

Mr. Kennedy writes knowledgeably and movingly of the scientists who built the war-ending nuclear weapon at Los Alamos, N.M.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Paul Kennedy, award-winning author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers and one of today’s most renowned historians, now provides a new and unique look at how World War II was won. Engineers of Victory is a fascinating nuts-and-bolts account of the strategic factors that led to Allied victory. Kennedy reveals how the leaders’ grand strategy was carried out by the ordinary soldiers, scientists, engineers, and businessmen responsible for realizing their commanders’ visions of success.

In January 1943, FDR and Churchill convened in Casablanca and established the Allied objectives for the war: to defeat the Nazi blitzkrieg; to control the Atlantic sea lanes and the air over western and central Europe; to take the fight to the European mainland; and to end Japan’s imperialism. Astonishingly, a little over a year later, these ambitious goals had nearly all been accomplished. With riveting, tactical detail, Engineers of Victory reveals how.

Kennedy recounts the inside stories of the invention of the cavity magnetron, a miniature radar “as small as a soup plate,” and the Hedgehog, a multi-headed grenade launcher that allowed the Allies to overcome the threat to their convoys crossing the Atlantic; the critical decision by engineers to install a super-charged Rolls-Royce engine in the P-51 Mustang, creating a fighter plane more powerful than the Luftwaffe’s; and the innovative use of pontoon bridges (made from rafts strung together) to help Russian troops cross rivers and elude the Nazi blitzkrieg. He takes readers behind the scenes, unveiling exactly how thousands of individual Allied planes and fighting ships were choreographed to collectively pull off the invasion of Normandy, and illuminating how crew chiefs perfected the high-flying and inaccessible B-29 Superfortress that would drop the atomic bombs on Japan.

The story of World War II is often told as a grand narrative, as if it were fought by supermen or decided by fate. Here Kennedy uncovers the real heroes of the war, highlighting for the first time the creative strategies, tactics, and organizational decisions that made the lofty Allied objectives into a successful reality. In an even more significant way, Engineers of Victory has another claim to our attention, for it restores “the middle level of war” to its rightful place in history.

Praise for Engineers of Victory
 
“Superbly written and carefully documented . . . indispensable reading for anyone who seeks to understand how and why the Allies won.”—The Christian Science Monitor
 
“An important contribution to our understanding of World War II . . . Like an engineer who pries open a pocket watch to reveal its inner mechanics, [Paul] Kennedy tells how little-known men and women at lower levels helped win the war.”—Michael Beschloss, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Histories of World War II tend to concentrate on the leaders and generals at the top who make the big strategic decisions and on the lowly grunts at the bottom. . . . [Engineers of Victory] seeks to fill this gap in the historiography of World War II and does so triumphantly. . . . This book is a fine tribute.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“[Kennedy] colorfully and convincingly illustrates the ingenuity and persistence of a few men who made all the difference.”—The Washington Post

“This superb book is Kennedy’s best.”—Foreign Affairs


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Paul Kennedy

See more books from this Author
Paul Kennedy is internationally known for his writings and commentaries on global political, economic, and strategic issues. He earned his B.A. at Newcastle University and his doctorate at the University of Oxford. Since 1983, he has been the Dilworth Professor of History and director of international security studies at Yale University. He is on the editorial board of numerous scholarly journals and writes for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and many foreign-language newspapers and magazines. Kennedy is the author and editor of nineteen books, including The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, which has been translated into more than twenty languages, followed by Preparing for the Twenty-first Century (1993), and The Parliament of Man (2006).
 
Published January 29, 2013 by Random House. 464 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War, Professional & Technical, Travel, Computers & Technology, Education & Reference, Science & Math. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Critic reviews for Engineers of Victory
All: 11 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on Sep 30 2012

The author introduces many individuals whose inventions and capacities contributed profoundly. An absorbing new approach to a well-worked field.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michael Beschloss on Feb 08 2013

...Kennedy’s volume is an important contribution to our understanding of World War II, and it sets a high standard for historians writing about other conflicts by reminding us to keep a close eye on technology.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by PD Smith on Jul 11 2014

For, as he shows, new weapons, processes and tactics are often decisive. Out of the fog of war, Kennedy distills the crucial elements in each campaign that brought final victory to the Allies. A masterly analysis of grand strategy.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Oct 08 2012

Kennedy takes a fresh and stimulating approach to the history of WWII...

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WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Andrew Roberts on Jan 27 2013

Mr. Kennedy writes knowledgeably and movingly of the scientists who built the war-ending nuclear weapon at Los Alamos, N.M.

Read Full Review of Engineers of Victory: The Pro... | See more reviews from WSJ online

The Economist

Good
on Mar 02 2013

...his knowledge of earlier conflicts adds depth and colour to his history of the middle years of the war.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Nigel Jones on Jan 29 2013

...written in the clearest and most compelling style...

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Christian Science Monitor

Excellent
Reviewed by Terry Hartle on Feb 06 2013

Superbly written and carefully documented, this book offers fresh and creative insights about the conflict to even the most expert readers. And it will become indispensable reading for anyone who seeks to understand how and why the Allies won.

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Dallas News

Below average
Reviewed by TOD ROBBERSON on Feb 01 2013

I have immense respect for Kennedy and the depth of his research, but to devote scores of pages to such back-and-forth, minute details, and then expect readers to follow his narrative, is unreasonable...I wanted deeper personal stories.

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Express

Good
Reviewed by John Lewis-Stempel on Jan 27 2013

Hitler's dictatorship was actually rather good at both invention and logistics. What, thankfully, the Nazis were bad at was empire-building. Terrorising the conquered was never going to put the expanded Reich on a sound footing. However, a brilliant book; quite, quite brilliant.

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Foreign Affairs

Good
on Jan 01 2013

This superb book is Kennedy’s best. He has crafted a lucid, original take on World War II that also offers insights on broader issues of strategy and war.

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