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The Unsinkable Fleet: The Politics of U.S. Navy Expansion in World War II Hardcover – October 11, 1996

3.5 out of 5 stars 3 ratings

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From the Back Cover

In this policy study of the U.S. Navy's expansion from 1939 through the end of the war, the author reveals some of the political and strategic complexities that come into play when a nation allocates finite resources to seemingly limitless needs. He examines policy formulation at the highest levels, focusing on the political problems faced by Navy leaders in their attempts to ensure that their building program proceeded despite resistance. The book begins with the original decisions about requirements for combatant ships and prewar attempts to integrate the Navy's building plans into the overall national program for wartime mobilization. As the strategic picture brightened and resource shortages worsened, critics accused the Navy of building a fleet beyond the needs and means of the nation, unnecessarily consuming manpower, materials, and labor. Davidson describes the Navy's protracted bureaucratic struggle, showing how it resisted all attempts to bring naval expansion policy under the auspices of joint planning staffs or civilian war agencies while it attacked non-Navy programs that threatened to consume resources earmarked for its own growth. He also addresses the Navy's internal problems in carrying out its ambitious shipbuilding goals, including shoddy manpower planning that could have left the growing fleet short of personnel had the Navy not been successful in its bureaucratic maneuvering to obtain additional men. Finally, he explains the clash between the Navy's military and civilian leaders over cuts anticipated to be politically beneficial in the postwar world.

About the Author

Joel R. Davidson is an attorney in Washington, D.C., and the author of Armchair Warriors. He holds a law degree from Yale and a PhD in history from Duke.

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