EBOOK or PDF Britains War Machine

Never even contested even by the great Bismark Perhaps modern media are part of the problem battlefleets that rarely fight suffer from an availability problem to radio listeners we don t hear about them much so they don t seem to matter In fact strategic outcomes are not incremmental sum of operations war is not tennis and the winner of the most battles does not necessarily win overall at all It s unwise to make strategy by publicity but that is generally the scheme of democracies historiography at very leastIn reality George VI s realm has to be graded the favourite to prevail throughout the conflict and was much stronger than generally realised both in its materiel on hand the industrial mass of war production and technological sophistication On this too Low s typical chagrin another 1940 cartoon juxtoposing planes and tanks with a threadbear infantryman lists the score as Machines 1 Heroes 0 was merely compounding the conventional wisdom already shared by the Whitehall elite and as Edgerton documents reflected in British resources allocation for years already The reason the Home Guard was so notoriously short of rifles was not unreadiness but the higher priority of heavy mechanisation in lieu of small arms Our idea of a bankrupt late empire Britain as technologically superior to the vigourous youthfull America obscures the reality that so much technology transfer actually flowed the other way In radar and sonar in intelligence cryptography and of course on the atomic bomb the main result of US entry into the war was to enable the Americans to take tutelage catch up and modernize Yet even at the time the image of Britain as a faltering dinosaur dominated public perception on both sides For Edgerton paradoxical paranoia about falling behind in weapons science is what may well have drove investment in secret weapons and war machines an investment at least on par with Hitler s better nown secret weapon mania and arguably an overinvestmentBy extension to the Social Democratic era that followed Edgerton shows how crucial wartime mobilisation and militarism really was in the drift leftward not a welfare state so much as a warfare state This crucial idea the social progressivity of the military industrial complex is not one the contemporary pseudo pacifist left is How Misuzu Got a Leg Up keen to entertain Beveridge et al were building not a Welfare State but a Warfare State in his words emphatically in context relative to totalitarianism ie not a social safety net so much as a harness to mobilize total employment to the task at hand Self sufficiency in lieu of trade only really makes sense as a lingering UK value in strategic termsHere the idea that the British Empire could have won World War II in Europe unilaterally without any American intervention at all is credibly presented than I ve ever seen The hoards may accuse him of nationalism but I think they re missing the point he s rescuing the visibility of the country which actually fought the war The Empire and revealing what a novelty the UK nation state and its islander national identity really is a Britishness explicitly exclusive of Anglo Canadians Australians and the rest was a novelty indeed Whereas at the time as one of Edgerton s wiser 1940 Punch cartoons has it We stand alone only the billion and a half of us So why not some revisionism on 1940 So much of the conventional narrative comes from Churchill himself by which he emerges as the preiminent hero that it s hard to say what else we would expect him to tell us Judged by their full participation in the pre war arms race Churchill s predecessors of the thirties were not according to Edgerton the luddites and anti mechanisation dinosaurs pre supposed as such by the very title of Churchill s 1938 polemic While England Slept As he declared in the Commons History shall judge you harshly for I shall write that history As an American Briton determined to definitively tie Britain to American power his rhetoric rationlised a strategic neediness in the English people that still drives the special relationship todayThe lesson here is that industrial strategy matters as I ve argued about the CF 35s procurement is not simply buying a product off the shelf in the market place A native defence industrial base is invaluable in its own right whether measured against enemies or as we see here so vividly in the London Washington dynamic with allies alike The implications of transactions for vendors are strategic variables in their own right they have to be planned A economics of defence must be a planned economy this is not a popular approach today to say the least But we re paying the costs in Canada For example what of Ottawa s Silicon Valley North It seems hard to deny defence IT spending was aey spark now that it s unravelled how ready for the era of cyberwar can Ottawa really be Well I now China is certainly ready and given their neighbourhood and 20th century history with surviving it who could blame them Certainly in aerospace and above all in civil nuclear energy post war Canada s high tech prosperity were directly the spoils of an agressively RD led Imperial industrial strategy we ve left too forgotten to creditCanada too is better understood as a conseuence of the story Edgerton tells in our poverty of strategic culture and our semi colonial eager beaver assumption that the grownups in London and Washington will now what to do or that even if they don t we can safely sit out from It All I Ve all I ve elsewhere of my conviction that the reason Canadian foreign policy or at least public opnion about it so strongly resembles post war German and Japanese pseudo pacifist multilateralism is that like them anglo Canadians too lost the war It was our Empire too and when the war was over we d lost it despite our most entheusiastic popular imperialism having raised arguably the largest all voluntary army in world history twice Legal definition of a separate Canadian citizenship would arguably NOT HAVE BEEN SALABLE IN ONTARIO OR THE have been politically salable in Ontario or the for Mackenzie King s prior to the War but was self evident in 1948 If the UK nationality was a post war novelty then so by way of geopolitical orphanhood was ours The Aussies have never been confused about that of course but in this regard their War is as forgotten to Anglo American Atlanticist historiography as our ownReality is that while Gibraltar never fell but the vaunted Gibraltar of the East at Singapore certainly did Our deliciously revisionist author locates the true nadir of British fortunes in the war catastrophic naval defeat by Japan by early 1942 In the Churchillian memory the Indian Ocean theatre is a sideshow we scarcely really think of Britain as a player in the Pacific the Americans War but that s only because their setbacks at Singapore Hong Kong even at Trincomalee were all so spectacularly decisive with the sinking at sea of flagship HMS Prince of Wales her cutting edge radar malfunctioning and anti air gunners proving unready To the Japanese it was European colonialism in Asia which formed the Main Adversary Churchill loudly dismissed Ghandi as a terrorist for example and had the Japanese a clear opening they might well have sought to adopt the Congress Party as a proxy as Stallin in the event made sure to do Churchill s memoirs may well rather dwell on the Battle of Britain but to Edgerton these naval defeats cast a far longer shadow ending the RN s two century hegemony over a whole hemesphere leaving the post war end of Empire a forgone conclusion and having nothing at all to do with any unpreparedness of appeasement Midway was no predictable as a victory and American tribulations around the Asian littoral ever since are largely a matter of its grasping often absent mindedly to pick up the pieces amid a vacuum left by unforseeable and basically spontaneous British combustionIn sum our Empire had a hip tech led strategy after all but still lost WW2 in weak leadership at sea to the United StatesSo the Clauswitzian lesson here is simply that battles matter so refreshing to read after decades of Marxist or Neo liberal materialism and economic determinism about global power Battles don t matter cumulatively necessarily but uite often as decisive fulcrums where so very much is prone to random chance This debate echoes Roman historiography where the causative weight of far from inevitable battlefield disasters especially at Adrianople 378 have long been cast as mere symptoms of inexorable social or economic decline at least since Edward Gibbon invented modern academic history in his 1776 classic I ve raised this dilemma with my History students this semester just because there are systemic implications trending human societies towards some configuration technolgical implications sociological implications does exclude a decisive role for random chanceThe same point applies to business strategy or social policy any other strategic context it is a profound fallacy to assume cause and effect are proportionate Obscurities can have comprehensive conseuences New technology is not destiny and not necessarily even a strategyIt s why history is inherently of the humanities history is a literature and certainly not a social science Theories of history are not falsifiable because history does not repeat itself when it does unexpectedly Even if we could press a rewind button and rerun the same events we would almost certainly not see causititve variables yield the same resultsSometimes stuff happens A good companion to works such as Tooze s Wages of Destruction and Collingham s The Taste of War this work investigates British attitudes towards a war that was thought to be determined by modern technology The British Empire was notable for its reliance on its powerful industrial basis Perhaps Edgerton s book is not as thorough as the two studies mentioned above The book has a stronger political slant as Edgerton argues that later historical interpretation of the war was strongly colored by the rise of British nationalism and post war political thinking which displaced the strongly internationalist outlook of the war years This gave rise to the myth of Britain standing alone against the might of Nazi occupied Europe which in turn fed many small myths This work makes a strong effort to replace myth with facts and figures and describe the reality of the war years The result is laden with information both on industry and on the important personalities of the period At times one does get the feeling that the author is overreaching a bit But this is a very interesting work which may change one s perspective on a period about which all already appeared to be now. Le others paid a great price Britain's War Machine by putting resources machines and experts at the heart of a global rather than merely imperial story demolishes some of the most cherished myths about wartime Britain and gives us a very different and often unsettling picture of a great power in action. .

Rebirth Rebirth
Britains War MachineAn interesting read that sets out to challenge the conventional received narrative about Britain in the Second World War starting from the argued premise that a Britain versus Nazi Germany conflict was a sure win for Britain not necessarily easy but sure The author offers lots of evidence to support that view supported by 81 pages of end notes and a 36 page bibliography He also goes to the trouble to explain how the received version of this history emerged and was propagated by both politicians and historians You don t need to be convinced but if you wish to be considered a serious student of World War Two you need to read this book More often or not I come across a work of history and think this is a good book Very rarely do I come across a book that changes my entire perception of an historical event This book is one of them Students of WW2 history are familiar with the image of plucky Britain standing up to the Nazi juggernaut Edgerton takes a mills bomb to this idea and blows it out of the water Using a barrage no pun intended of stats tables and pages of brilliantly researched data Edgerton turns one of the enduring myths of WW2 on its head If anything it was Germany that was the underdog The sheer scale of Britain s empire the resources at its dis Very data rich and does some heavy myth busting of common misconceptions about Great Britain and the Second World War It HAD way too many examples and failed to eep the narrative moving steadily and coherently from chapter to chapter Don t bother with it unless you have a pretty serious interest in the technological innovations and minutiae of production in the UK leading up to and during WWII A good debunking of many myths about British war production On the way back from a trip to the UK I dipped into the bookstore at the airport and couldn t resist a 3 for 2 Sonderangebot The main inspiration was David Edgerton s book on the mobilisation of the Empire in Britain s War Machine I got excited by the tables of British and overseas production as well as the maps of oil pipelines and major centres of war production Topping that is the list of highest awards from the Royal Commission of Awards for Inventions Edgerton weaves contemporary and newly made graphics very well and I look forward to reading it some day This is a strange book Starts off fantastically and convincingly goes through a 100 page section which just bombards you with statistics then gets it together again at the endUnbelievably level of research 300 pages long plus 150 pages of footnotes David Edgerton s book turns popular myths about Britain in the Second World War upside down and inside out But a word of warning firstHe is making a point about history and not giving us a narrative so it would help if you already had some understanding of the course of the second world war and its past historiographyThere are times when the author revels in his piling up of data to prove his points which are very many so that some chapters reuire a fair amount of concentration of effort to understand fullyBut I do not want to put you off the book because it is informative sometimes downright exciting as it shifts mental models and well illustrated with tables maps and extensive notesWhere to begin I was persuaded by the sheer logic of the book that much of what I thought was true was not true it has even changed my view of contemporary political prioritiesHe is persuasive that the British Empire was never not going to win the Second World War with perhaps my own caveat that a lucky invasion and a bunch of uislings might have made it a very different EmpireThe scale of the trading and financial muscle of the Empire with its Dominions four of the five Big Eyes of global surveillance today meant that what became the United Nations would conuer in the endBy the end of the book one might even feel sorry for Germany if it were not for the vile nature of its regime blockaded led by a blockhead self murderously running itself into the groundThere is of course the story here of how the US displaced the Empire as hegemonic Western power but Edgerton is persuasive that this was not Britain declining but the US making use of spare capacityThe difference between the two powers in 1939 was that the UK was an efficient global trading operation which it still is and the US had still not found a way to mop up the mass unemployed of 1929War permitted that massive surplus capacity to be employed There is a fascinating transfer of capability from the UK to the US where it becomes clear that the US is simply effective at utilising assetsThis is one of the points that come out of the book Britain was so prosperous that it was monstrously wasteful War is wasteful of course but the level of waste here was something elseWhat was happening was that Churchill and his cronies exemplified a peculiar form of Liberal Militarism still operative today that created what amounted to a warfare stateBut the liberal part of that apparent oxymoron included an evident reluctance or perhaps political inability to expend human life with the gay abandon of the Central and East EuropeansEdgerton has written elsewhere on this idea of a Liberal Militarist warfare state beyond categories of Right and Left perhaps to the Right that saw total victory arising out of machinesWhat this meant was that the right application of technology to wielding death on opponents would the minimum death right of technology to wielding death on your opponents would permit minimum death your own side and the minimum disruption of the good life at homeHe makes clear that it was rather a good war for Britons compared to what was experienced on the Continent Not for some individuals or families perhaps but undoubtedly for many young workersIn general people were well nourished and the bombing campaigns were isolated to a relatively short period and area When they came they were horrific but most people most of the time were secureBut it was no welfare state the poor the young the old and the vulnerable were shunted aside to ensure that war workers and the military had the best of what was goingSimilarly the death rates for troops were far less than the bloody milling going on from the suburbs of Moscow to Berlin Bomber crews and merchant navy men were the worst affected with significant lossesAnd that in itself tells you something one set of men were expended to wreak greater death largely on civilians and the other lost their lives ensuring their fellows were well nourished and armedThe US was to bring to a higher level this Anglo Saxon belief in technology the atom bomb and B 52 as assurance against sending voters Ageless Body, Timeless Mind kids too lightly to their deathsThis attitude is very much part of what it is to be a modern liberal in the age of democracy and it empowered the State to allocate vast sums to armament and social control for decades to comeNot that any liberal has ever hesitated to send another father s son to their death if it was the right thing to do but only that it was deemed better to have your enemy and his motherilled remotelyIf the British Empire was never going to be defeated and the German regime is now reliably seen as economically flawed at its very core this was because it was never aloneThe Empire was not just a formal empire but an informal network of global relationships Much of the world was dependent on patterns of trade and finance set by London and London dictated its termsThe UK was uite capable of shifting its supply around from a blockaded Europe to the rest of the world in a way impossible to Hitler as much as Napoleon and to do so very uicklyEuropean dictators have to grab territory drive desperately for oil fields or wheat lands whereas the great Anglo Saxon empires have simply sent a ship theirs or one purchased with their geldEuropeans within the blockade and third world suppliers of single crops that were no longer a priority suffered terribly The Bengal Famine of 1942 was the fruit of a callous shift of shipping prioritiesThe Empire treated much of the world as private property reuired to maintain the homeland and war then became a means of creating a strong national state that could disregard the interests of its partnersEdgerton is persuasive that the war represents a transition not only from British to American global dominance but also from an imperial mind set to a nationalist mind set But Britain was never alone the rhetoric was nonsense and should be seen to be nonsense The British were just the self regarding beneficiaries of their own past piracies In the end the myths were necessary to create a certain spirit or morale helped by the fact that the Nazis really were rather vile Perhaps we did not do bad things simply because we did not need toBut we did This brings us to the peculiarly Anglo Saxon contribution to the long litany of man s inhumanity to man the strategic bombing campaign where the British made a fetish out of area bombingThe brutality of this is fascinating Though we are brought up on Guernica in fact the Nazis retaliated rather than initiated bombing and bombing of civilians was absolutely central to British strategyIndeed it is interesting that it was the Americans that insisted on trying to be precise and break down transport and oil supply while the horrible Bomber Harris insisted on area bombingIt was all part of this idea that war could be won by technology so minimising harms to the homeland Edgerton is particularly good on this showing not merely a warfare state but an aviation stateThe interwar ideology of world peace being enforced by a British imperial air force links us directly with the mentality behind atomic warfare and the repulsive bombing campaigns of VietnamThe same mentality is behind shock and awe drones and surveillance as means of both crushing alternative military structures and controlling errant asymmetrical tribes people increasingly ourselvesThe Liberal Militarism precursor to neo conservatism and Blairismo of empire is matched by its wastefulness and its intense interest in technology as weapon of state expansion and social controlI think you are beginning to see the importance of this book because alongside the work of Peter Hennessy on the Cold War State and many others we have a picture of the democratic state that disturbsHuge resources are made available to the State justified by war or emergency that can be applied not merely to winning the war but to controlling how we see that war This is totalitarianism liteEdgerton does not spend a lot of time on culture his metier is science and technology but his few examples show how the arts contributed to our own contemporary false consciousness about our pastWe need to start thinking about. GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEARThe familiar image of the British in the Second World War is that of the plucky underdog taking on German might David Edgerton's bold compelling new history shows the conflict in a new light with Britain as a very wealthy country formidable in arms ruthless in pursuit of its

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This His and other historians remorseless engagement with the facts tell us a very different picture about the Second World War than we had been led to believeWe leave the book with a profound sense of confusion because he has dismantled a structure of belief like Nietzsche illing God but has not given us alternative structure He takes no ideological position so perhaps we have to we might go back to the myth and say simply that this was what we were led to believe and now we have become what we believeThis would be no different from any member of any religion who has inherited norms which scholarship will dismantle easily enough but which the believer chooses not to listen toWhat we have done is inherited a national religion as perhaps all nations have done and the new facts reuire either forgetting or a reform of our beliefCertainly the book has led me to fix some revisions of belief that were already in my mind but has produced some new onesThanks to Hennessy and others I already new that the United Kingdom had become a warfare state in stages throughout the last century and that welfare was a poor relation made necessary by political pressuresI was never sold on the country having a well functioning democracy so the account of Churchill s cronyism as oligarchical as anything to be found in Putin s Russia did not surprise mePerhaps the historical depth of liberal internationalism as Liberal Militarism was new to me but not wholly a surpriseAfter all I had when young sat in on private meetings at which noble lords and industrialists had plotted with surety the defeat of the Left precisely in order to save the nuclear deterrentAnd finally no one but a fool does not understand imperialism and capitalism as essentially exploitative although without necessarily believing that the exploitation cannot be progressive and modernisingNo what was new was the realisation of just how much the ordinary folk of Britain the British working class had been bamboozled about their own condition and in so many different waysThe worst culprit is ironically the Party in which I spent much of my life the Labour Party Although it did triumph in 1945 and it did shift into a welfare agenda it never shifted out of the warfare agenda excepting perhaps under Harold Wilson and then in its time of troubles in the 1970sIt was brought into Government by Churchill as a political manouevre to counter the free trade and peace elements on the Right and was largely cover for his own Liberal Militarism and imperialismFrom that point on although it captured the State through elections in fact the State captured it culminating in the final indignity of a full blown Liberal Militarist running it like a dictatorship in Blair1926 may have proven decisively that the revolutionary path was not possible for the Left but Ramsey Macdonald and then Attlee both hammered nails of different sorts into the coffin of left democracyMacdonald toadied to the prevailing vision of economics when he had no need to and Attlee far forgivably sacrificed democracy for the power to make material changes in the lives of the peopleSimilarly the book helps to lay to rest another set of malign myths that come from the closed elite that seems to decide how we are to think as well as live about EuropeThe logic of the European Union for Europeans is profound in the context of world war Any power that conuers Europe by force destroys Europe by triggering blockades on one side and Russia on the otherFrom this perspective unifying Europe and turning it into a single market by consent halts competition for internal imperial control and ensures that scarcities can be ameliorated by internal tradeBut for the United Kingdom and for Russia the same logic does not apply Let Russia speak for Russia but the United Kingdom only survives as an island through global and not just European tradeInside Europe the United Kingdom is just a Province outside Europe it is a wealthy Informal Empire The welfare state depends on it being than a Province It reuires the City and exportsJust as the Labour Party needs to be removed or become the voice of the people so the United Kingdom needs to recognise that what is in the interest of the people is independence of EuropeThe elite that blundered into war in 1914 and in 1939 is still with us It still has a Liberal Militarist ideology and it still buys off any attempt to uestion its rule in just the way it has always doneIt is committed to its own survival by selling out a rather limited democracy and our independent cultural tradition to a bureaucracy that reproduces its own desire for waste warfare and a trough Neither world war was necessary to the British people unless you are a card carrying liberal internationalist but that is what these people are The same people took us to edge on the Ukraine only this monthThe same bureaucrats and intellectuals from the same network of schools and universities with the same editors run rough shod over both the wealth producers in business and the workers One of the tricks is to divide us aggressively into right and left as if the worker and the financier do not actually have in common as wealth creators than either do with those who live high on the tax hogWorkers who won t work but want a regular wage and capitalists who are pig greedy are minorities we can deal with but a free nation is one with absolute euality of opportunity and reward for effortBut back to the book where None Of This Politics Exists Just Straight Talking On The of this politics exists just straight talking on the that stands in a long tradition of independent historical thought that goes back to Angus CalderEach generation of historian I admire Richard Overy in this respect too is stripping way the mythology of power and allowing us to make choices about the narrative that works for usIncreasingly one sees accepted history as a form of belief a religion of identity and the best historians of our time as critics of culture whose impact is like that of culture whose impact is like that philosophers on religionIdentities have become fluid in the internet age So they should be matters of choice and not imposition but identities have not gone awayJust as someone might choose to be transgender another might reaffirm their traditional masculinity Someone might choose to be a Wiccan and another affirm an existential belief in the Lord Jesus ChristSo it is with national identity it is a thing that we inherit and then we have to choose what to do with the inheritance adopt what we have been given reject or adapt it to new conditionsI hope the new fact based and humane historiography of war empire and nationality enables us to begin to analyse our position without falling into the trap of ideologyWhat are our own core values what is the good and how do these values related to what I have been told it is to be as I choose to be English British or even EuropeanEdgerton s book alongside others reaffirms that what it is to be British is my choice on the facts and I choose to be enraged at the incompetence and waste of our ruling elite and at the warfare stateHowever I also choose to be deeply impressed by the way the people of a very small island created a global trading system that on balance if callously brought a positive modernity to the worldI also choose to think that the suppressed and repressed radical democratic tradition of the English remains fundamental to reviving Britain as a peaceful prosperous and humane nationAn English Left shorn of ideology critical of power engaged with global wealth creation and abandoning liberal internationalism and techno warfare as false and cruel may be far away but it can beIf we come to see an euivalent Right that is individualistic and democratic and competes for space with neo socialism in a free independent Britain this will also be down to good historiography The blurb suggested a popular history that would make a narrative case that the popular view of British war production that it wasn t good enough was false The book is actually a pretty dry academic recounting of British war production a third of the book is notes and references with a lot of facts figures and names and not so much narrative It does occasionally get round to the case it promises British war production was strong and innovative easily the match of Germany and the USA early in the war outstripping Germany handily by the end although many of the inventions that became famous during and after the war PLUTO Mulberry the bouncing bomb had very little impactAn interesting story competently if uninspiringly told BY PERMISSION FROM wwwpaper trailscaOriginal Post shallow review I suppose mostly summary but such a great book I ve been reading while A Dark Enchantment knocking around NZ one last time in my surf van and today Lest We Forget I can t resist throwing it up hereWith a blizzard of fact and annecdote Edgerton here demolishes the traditional narrative the British have told themselves that after the fall of France amid the Battle of Britain under threat of Hitler s unrealized OP SEALION invasion plans in 1941 they stood alone as a plucky underdog holding out against ruthlessly efficient mechanized Nazi blitzkrieg In reality Britain was far from alone as Canadiannow well believing this story reuires writing Canada out of the war along with India British Africa and the rest of the roughly one uarter of the manpower of the human race It rests on a very twentieth century and very English assumption that only white peoples in Europe countries count strategicallyIf legeandary Kiwi born catoonist David Low is a good example it also rested on the very colonial England worship of the rest of us Britons elsewhere in defferential perennially small minded uarters of the empire If the Anglo American Atlanticists have written us out of our central role in world history we ve only been too Driven With the Wind (Cheney Duvall, M.D., keen to helpMost bizarrely it rests on a peculiarly un English underrating of the strategic weight of sea power the Royal Navy was never seriously challenged by Germany and as long as it controlled Europe s coastline it was the Europe under economic siege not the British Isles The U boat threat famously at least among RCN sailors claimed by Churchill as the only thing which really worried him can be disposed of with some solid data for the reliability of food imports the U Boats were always threat than blow the marine euivalent of V1 and V2 rocketry Their destruction was spectacular but not strategically decisive in a war attrition Allied shipyards were always certain to win Meanwhile the RN home fleet s blockade of Nazi Europe put far serious constraint on Axis access to resources as the economic data here bear out and was so complete it was. Nterests and sitting at the heart of a global production systemThe British indeed Churchillian vision of war and modernity was challenged by repeated defeat by less well euipped enemies Yet the end result was a vindication of this vision Like the United States a powerful Britain won a cheap victory whi.

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