Cover image for Divided arsenal : race and the American state during World War II
Divided arsenal : race and the American state during World War II
Kryder, Daniel.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, U.K. ; New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xv, 301 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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E185.61 .K79 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Divided Arsenal compares the causes and effects of federal race policy during World War II in factories, the Army, and agriculture. While scholars such as Gunner Mydrdal have suggested that wars promote the salience of the nation's founding democratic and egalitarian ideals, two imperatives - the mobilization of industrial production and the maintenance of the New Deal Coalition - outweigh the goals of interracial reform. The history of industrial employment policies confirms the role of party and war-fighting concerns in the creation of the Fair Employment Practices Committee and the committee's investigative casework. While military racial policies were initially repressive, by spurring black soldier resistance they paradoxically facilitated steps toward desegregation by transforming the executive's calculation of military efficiency. Important similarities in the timing and quality of reform in the three fields indicate that war-fighting concerns affected policy outcomes despite variations in African-American political and economic opportunities in various sectors and sections.

Author Notes

Daniel Kryder is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The experience of blacks in World War II was a major factor in the civil rights equation of the 1950s. The affronts blacks endured on the home front during the war, and federal reactions to blacks' complaints, are less the focus of Kryder's analysis than his evidence for modeling the states' race policies during a war emergency. Consequently, political-science diction permeates Kryder's book. However, enough narrative muscle hangs on Kryder's academic frame to garner interest. Well-known figures in black history, such as union leader A. Philip Randolph, appear at the interstices between insistence on reforms and the states' imperative to mitigate disruptions to mobilization issuing from racial inequality. The Federal Employment Practices Committee was one expression of the former; an expression of the latter, a racial shoot-out on an Army base in Georgia, attracts Kryder's minute, blow-by-blow examination that shows how fundamental problems were kicked down the road for the postwar years to deal with. A serious work for the serious student. --Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a scorching scrutiny of African-Americans' wartime experience on the home front during WWII, MIT political science professor Kryder asserts that Franklin Roosevelt's administration did more to correct racial injustice than had any post-Civil War presidency. Nevertheless, charges Kryder, FDR's race policies, while appearing progressive, co-opted protest and served to maintain rather than undermine segregation, because this expedient wartime president's overriding concerns were reelection for the Democratic Party and full mobilization of industrial production. To combat widespread discrimination in defense training, in vocational programs, war-related factory production and federal contracts, FDR in 1941 established the Fair Employment Practices Committee. He also appointed a "Black Cabinet," i.e., a handful of black federal appointees in key advisory roles in industry and the armed services. Yet these measures, focusing on the resolution of individual grievances, were viewed by militant African-American leaders as a mere buffer to pacify blacks rather than to fully integrate them. When black protest escalated, the army defused rebellion within the ranks--by shipping black troops overseas. But in 1943, after insurrections by mistreated black soldiers in Georgia, Texas, Kentucky and California, the War Department invented new policies to prevent or control racial disruptions. These included surveillance, desegregation of post facilities and transport vehicles, and an anti-prejudice indoctrination campaign. Yet FDR's piecemeal reforms, concludes Kryder in this illuminating scholarly study, both energized and subverted the nascent movement for racial equality, creating bureaucratic channels that acted to detour the mass agitation which, two decades later, would secure civil rights. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The title of this otherwise commendable piece of scholarship is misleading--rather than discussing race relations broadly, the book focuses more narrowly on relations between African Americans and the federal government. Philosophically and historically, Kryder (political science, MIT) bases his analysis on Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma (1944). During World War II, he notes, the U.S. government needed to mobilize African American factory workers, farm laborers, and soldiers for the war effort. This, public officials decided, required, in part, some limited racial reform; it also required coercion to achieve the greater good. Kryder does an excellent job of examining the causes and effects of wartime race management and seeks to develop a broader understanding of how government regulates social differences in war. In doing so, to his credit, he avoids simplistic racial arguments and provides an insightful and unique analysis of this period. Highly recommended for academic libraries.--Daniel D. Liestman, Hale Lib., Kansas State Univ., Manhattan (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Note on Sources and Usagep. xv
1 A Divided Arsenal: The Problem and Its Settingp. 1
2 The Executive and Political Imperatives: Presidential Campaigns and Race Management Policies on the Eve of Warp. 25
3 The Executive and National Security Imperatives: Unrest and Early Struggles over Racial Manpower Policiesp. 53
4 The Racial Politics of Industrial Employment: Central State Authority and the Adjustment of Factory Workp. 88
5 The Racial Politics of Army Service: Central State Authority and the Control of Black Soldier Resistancep. 133
6 June 9, 1943: "Negro Soldier Trouble" at Camp Stewart, Georgiap. 168
7 The Racial Politics of Urban and Rural Unrest: Monitoring Farms and Surveilling Citiesp. 208
8 "America Again at the Crossroads": War and Race in the Twentieth-Century United Statesp. 243
Appendix 1.1p. 261
Appendix 1.2p. 263
Appendix 1.3p. 265
Appendix 4.1p. 267
Appendix 4.2p. 269
Appendix 4.3p. 271
Appendix 4.4p. 277
Appendix 4.5p. 279
Appendix 5.1p. 281
Appendix 5.2p. 283
Appendix 5.3p. 289
Indexp. 291