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Purchase Cry Havoc: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931-1941 from Amazon.com

Cry Havoc: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931-1941
by Joseph Maiolo
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Rating:
Reviewed by: John L. Hoh, Jr.

Did the arms race of the 1930s cause the Second World War? I recall this being a rallying cry when Ronald Reagan was president and embarked on a build-up of the American military. It was a "given" that war materiel is developed to be used. Lessons from World War II were used to illustrate Reagan's "folly".

In Cry Havoc Joseph Maiolo relates how the deadly game of the arms race was played out in the decade prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. I'm not sure why he chose 1941 as the start, though. Hitler was already at war in 1939. The 1940 Tokyo Olympics were canceled because of war. Did the author use the entrance of the United States in December 1941 as the starting point?

The author explores how nations reacted to the moves of their rivals, revealing the thinking of those making the key decisions: Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain, Stalin, Roosevelt. He also examines the dilemmas of democratic leaders who seemed to be faced with a choice between defending their nations and preserving their democratic way of life. Of course all bets are off when your nation is attacked and your people are killed.

More space could have been given to conflicts that preceded World War II where nations tried out their military "toys". These include the various Japanese conflicts as well as the Spanish Civil War. One could also point out that the Great Depression and Germany's heavy burden of war reparations contributed to unrest in Germany and the rise of radical German leaders. Desperation can also fuel conflict.


Purchase Cry Havoc: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931-1941 from Amazon.com



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