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Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats That Won World War II (Eisenhower Center Studies on War and Peace) Paperback – October 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: Eisenhower Center Studies on War and Peace
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Lsu Press; Reprint edition (October 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807123390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807123393
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #913,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Allied commander-in-chief Dwight Eisenhower called him "the man who won the war for us"--Andrew Higgins (1886-1952), who designed and mass-produced the landing craft that carried American troops ashore in the Pacific and European theaters of WW II. Strahan's rousing story is about the New Orleans businessman who, while fighting the Navy bureaucracy to assure that U.S. forces had the finest amphibious craft possible, became head of one of the largest industrial complexes in the world. Strahan discusses Higgins's enlightened hiring practices (many of his shipyard workers were black, female or disabled), his long-running battle with the AFL and CIO, and his postwar struggle to stay in business as designer/builder of commercial and pleasure craft. Strahan's biography will appeal both to students of American business and to general readers; Higgins was a brash, colorful, dynamic man. Strahan is a New Orleans businessman; this is his first book. Illustrations.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Very informative and excellent book.
Myron D. Drinkwater
Like I said before this is an amazing book about a great man and the boats that won the war, a must read for any WWII buff.
Ben Kuhn
John F. Kennedy's PT 109 was one of those.
Thomas H. Savery

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By George G. Kiefer on August 10, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is easy to see why Marine Corps Lt. Gen. "Howlin' Mad" Smith and Andrew Higgins were great friends. Both were dynamic men of genius who suffered the bungling of lesser men, often times, the same group of bunglers. But neither man would suffer in silence. Smith, along with other farsighted Marines, understood quite early the nature of the coming war in the Pacific. It would be a bloody contest of island hopping across the Pacific to the very shores of the Japanese home islands. The taking of those islands would necessarily require the landing of assault troops on defended beaches and the United States lacked proper amphibious craft for the task. There was a critical lack of troop transports, cargo transports and a satisfactory landing craft to bring both ashore had yet to be designed.
From the bayous and backwater swamps of Louisiana, boat builder and designer Andrew Higgins produced a boat far superior to other designs, the now famous Higgins Boat. Incredibly, the Navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair (BCR), as early as 1934, preferred to ignore this boat. Even more incredible, in sixty-one hours he designed and built a tank lighter which far exceeded the design produced by the Bureau of Ships. Both craft were largely ignored in spite of their superior performance in multiple government tests. But the men who would use these craft first, the service men who formulated the "Tentative Landing Operations Manual" in 1934 became Higgins strongest allies and chief among them was H. M. Smith. The Marines saw the worth of the boats he designed and fought for them. They fought for the best landing craft which would carry their Marines ashore under enemy fire.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 13, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wish every doctoral dissertation were this useful. Under the guidance of Stephen E. Ambrose, well known for his books on the citizen-soldiers of World War II, the author has produced a very readable and moving book about one brilliant caustic citizen's forgotten contributions to World War II. Two aspects of this book jump out at the reader: the first is that Americans are capable of anything when motivated. Andrew Jackson Higgins and his employees, most trained overnight for jobs they never thought to have, was able to create an assembly line producing one ship a day. He was able to design, build and test gun boats and landing craft on an overnight basis. He is remembered by Marines, and especially General Victor Krulak, for having given America the one missing ingredient necessary for successful amphibious landings-in this way, he may well have changed the course of the war and the history of our Nation. The second aspect that jumps out at the reader is that of bureaucratic pettiness to the point of selfishly undermining the war effort within the Department of the Navy and the Bureau of Boats. In careful and measured detail, the author lays out the history of competition between trained naval architects with closed minds, and the relatively under-trained Higgins team with new ideas, and shows how the bureaucracy often conspired to block and demean Higgins at the expense of the Marines and the sailors on the front line. There is less of that sort of thing these days, but it is still with us, as we contemplate the need for a 450-ship Navy that is fully capable for Operations Other Than War (OOTW). This book should be included on the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Chief of Naval Operations lists of recommended professional readings, and it should be studied by anyone contemplating the hidden dangers of bureaucratic interests that often override the public interest and undermine our national security.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By eugenemeyer on July 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a study in how to test ideas with practice and in leadership. The primary lessons for me in Strahan's book are how Higgins did this and became so effective, and his limitations. This book provides the unvarnished facts on both. Higgins' many boats were much better than his competitors, for three reasons: he tested his ideas, he inspired loyalty that got the job done objectively, and he was a very good listener. 1. He tested his designs repeatedly. He began building them commercially as work boats. His famous landing craft of WW II, were based first on what he learned in the business building shallow draft boats to retrieve farm equipment marooned by floods of the Mississippi River and the Ohio river. When he got a Dutch contract to build 20 boats, instead of setting up a production line to make them all the same, he made them one at a time and varied the design to see what he could learn. His next boats, for the Army Corps of Engineers, had deficiencies discovered in the bow construction by one of his sons, of being damaged by floating logs. His further boats, for fur trappers in the shallow waters of S Louisiana, also needed stronger bows. A faster and more maneuverable design was needed by people importing liquor during Prohibition, to outrun Coast Guard ships. Build it, test it, make the next one better.
2. He inspired loyalty of the kind that got the job done objectively. To see what objective means, see (1) above on testing results, and (3) on listening.
3. Higgins was a very good listener. He listened to his craftsmen. He listened to foremen. He listened to marine boat designers, including people who used small boats in wartime. The people he listened to, often continued to work for him for many years. He understood boats really well, and he understood people.
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