While researching his previous study, Arsenal of Democracy: The American Automobile Industry in World War II (Wayne State University Press, 2013), award-winning automotive historian Charles K. Hyde discovered the many remarkable photos that were part of the era’s historical documentation. In Images from the Arsenal of Democracy, Hyde presents a selection of nearly three hundred of these documentary photos in striking black and white, with brief captions. Taken together, the images create a captivating portrait of this crucial moment in American business, military, and cultural history.
Images from the Arsenal of Democracy spans from 1940 until the end of the war, presenting up-close, rarely seen views of newly built plants and repurposed production lines, a staggering variety of war products and components, and the many workers behind Detroit’s wartime production miracles. The human faces that Hyde presents are especially compelling, as photos show the critical role played by previously underused workers—namely women and African Americans. Images from the Arsenal is divided into chapters by theme, including “Preparing for War before Pearl Harbor”; “Planning Defense Production after Pearl Harbor”; “Aircraft Engines and Propellers”; “Aircraft Components and Complete Aircraft”; “Tanks and Other Armored Vehicles”; “Jeeps, Trucks, and Amphibious Vehicles”; “Guns, Shells, Bullets, and Other War Goods”; “The New Workers”; and “Celebrating the Production Achievements.”
The first comprehensive and detailed history drawn solely from the surviving photographic record of wartime Detroit, Images from the Arsenal will be appreciated by automotive historians, World War II scholars, and American history buffs.