Book of the Month

American_ArsenalAmerican Arsenal, A Century of Waging War.

If you’ve had a chance to stop by this blog before, then you will know that I’ve posted many stories on or about military events, from World War I and World War II up through Vietnam.  From posts about conflicts to personalities and more, these singular, horrible events set the stage for the history we are now living.

Given this, I’ve recently had the opportunity from Oxford University Press to review one of their latest published titles, American Arsenal, A Century of Waging War, written by Patrick Coffey.  Given that this has been a major focus of this blog and my reason for overall interest in history, I couldn’t wait to dig in!

About the Book

Available as both an eBook and hardback, the focus of American Arsenal is not just a single conflict or personality/event.  Instead the book zeroes in on how the military has helped to transform America, from the growing pains of World War I up through today.  In the introduction, Coffey states that in writing this title, he has:

“…chosen stories that have…been undertold…”

In a nutshell, this is the case.  Skipping the traditional and well-told stories and events, Coffey illustrates and informs us on topics such as:

  • The Birth of Precision Bombing
  • The Cold War and the Hydrogen Bomb
  • Vietnam (Details on Agent Orange and More)
  • The Rise of the Drones

Of particular interest to me was the chapter on the infamous Norden Bombsight.  Shrouded in mystery during the war, yet considered “the” prime technological innovation of the strategic bombing campaigns in World War II, I found out in the book that the devices were actually kept secretive to a large extent because of an ongoing trade war between Norden and Sperry, not necessarily any risk of supposed “spying”.


The book is illustrated throughout, coming with a complete index and notes pages in the back.   The source listings are also helpful in learning more about the topics as presented.

My thoughts?  While not comprehensive as some titles I’ve read, this particular book is quite impressive in its focus.  With a “behind-the-scenes” approach to many war-related and political topics and extensively researched details, I feel it brings fresh perspective and information to a topic that is sometimes overlooked.

If you’re a World War I or World War II buff or just interested in learning more about the role of the military in America from a fresh viewpoint, then I would recommend this for purchase.

If you want to learn more about the book and author, I’ve included some additional information below. If you have a chance, check it out!

Book Information:

Oxford University Press Catalog Entry
Price: $29.95
Pages: 336
ISBN: 9780199959747

Google Books Entry

OCLC WorldCat Entry

OUP Blog, “Building the Hydrogen Bomb.”

Publishers Weekly Review


Thanks again for stopping by the blog and I hope that you’ve enjoyed my review!

Stay Tuned!