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The Rise of the G.I. Army, 1940-1941 Summary and Reviews

The Rise of the G.I. Army, 1940-1941

The Forgotten Story of How America Forged a Powerful Army Before Pearl Harbor

by Paul Dickson

The Rise of the G.I. Army, 1940-1941 by Paul Dickson X
The Rise of the G.I. Army, 1940-1941 by Paul Dickson
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Book Summary

In September 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland and initiated World War II, a strong strain of isolationism existed in Congress and across the country.

The U.S. Army stood at fewer than 200,000 men―unprepared to defend the country, much less carry the fight to Europe and the Far East. And yet, less than a year after Pearl Harbor, the American army led the Allied invasion of North Africa, beginning the campaign that would defeat Germany, and the Navy and Marines were fully engaged with Japan in the Pacific.

The story of America's astounding industrial mobilization during World War II has been told. But what has never been chronicled before Paul Dickson's The Rise of the G. I. Army, 1940-1941 is the extraordinary transformation of America's military from a disparate collection of camps with dilapidated equipment into a well-trained and spirited army ten times its prior size in little more than eighteen months. From Franklin Roosevelt's selection of George C. Marshall to be Army Chief of Staff to the remarkable peace-time draft of 1940 and the massive and unprecedented mock battles in Tennessee, Louisiana, and the Carolinas by which the skill and spirit of the Army were forged and out of which iconic leaders like Eisenhower, Bradley, and Clark emerged; Dickson narrates America's urgent mobilization against a backdrop of political and cultural isolationist resistance and racial tension at home, and the increasingly perceived threat of attack from both Germany and Japan.

An important addition to American history, The Rise of the G. I. Army, 1940-1941 is essential to our understanding of America's involvement in World War II.

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"A richly detailed history of the rebuilding of American military power in the run-up to World War II...The author provides a wealth of fascinating detail; even those familiar with the general history of the period will learn something new...One of the best treatments to date of America's rapid transition from the Depression to the wartime power it became." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Dickson marches readers through his voluminous research at a brisk clip, and makes a convincing case that if the army hadn't been transformed, the war would have been lost. WWII buffs and military history readers will salute this stirring effort." - Publishers Weekly

"Paul Dickson's The Rise of the G.I. Army is a deeply researched and well-written account about how FDR mobilized the American army in the years before Pearl Harbor. This is military history at its absolute finest. It's impossible to think about World War II properly without reading this seminal work. Highly recommended!" - Douglas Brinkley, Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University, and bestselling author of Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America and American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race

"Just when we think there's nothing left to learn about World War II, Paul Dickson tells us more, much more. This is one of the most important books I've read that showcases the forces of isolationism and racism during one of the most consequential periods in American history. It belongs on the shelves of everyone who understands how fragile democracy is and why every American is worthy of fighting for it." - Senator William S. Cohen, former United States Secretary of Defense

"A largely forgotten story brilliantly rectified by Paul Dickson in a book that lucidly and compellingly charts the rise of the US Army from the nonentity it had become by 1939 to the exponentially growing force of millions by the time of Pearl Harbor. From the corridors of Washington to pioneering manoeuvres to the shores of North Africa, and demonstrating how many of the leading players later in the war made their mark, Dickson recounts this astonishing progression and in so doing fills a gap in our understanding of the United States' incredible contribution to victory in World War II. Utterly fascinating from start to finish." - James Holland, author of Normandy '44 and Big Week

"How did the United States Army transform from a fighting force barely able to repulse another Pancho Villa-like raid to taking on the mighty Wehrmacht? Through lively and engaging prose, Paul Dickson tells this largely forgotten but crucial story. Thoroughly researched and very readable, Dickson's brilliant The Rise of the G.I. Army is destined to be the new standard for this period." - Patrick K. O'Donnell, bestselling author of Dog Company and The Unknowns

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Author Information

Paul Dickson

Paul Dickson is the author of more than sixty nonfiction books, including Sputnik: The Shock of the Century and The Bonus Army: An American Epic (with Thomas B. Allen), and books on electronic warfare and war slang. He concentrates on writing about the American language, baseball, and 20th century history. He lives in Garrett Park, Maryland.

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