Hoover Institution director John Raisian has announced that research fellow Keith Eiler has been awarded the second annual Rita Ricardo-Campbell and W. Glenn Campbell Uncommon Book Award for Mobilizing America: Robert P. Patterson and the War Effort, 1940–1945 (Cornell University Press). The award comes with a $10,000 honorarium.
Mobilizing America is the first book-length account of the critical role Patterson played as Under Secretary of War in forging the weapons of allied victory in World War II. Patterson, who resigned from the United States Court of Appeals in 1940 to join the War Department, faced the task of rapidly arming a threatened but completely unprepared nation in a world already at war. The task involved nothing less than the conversion of America's vast and sprawling market-oriented economy into an effective war machine. As an "all-out" mobilizer, Patterson insisted that the nation put forth a maximum war effort. Eiler quotes him as saying, "We do not ask our boys in combat to do an adequate job; we ask them to do their best. We can do no less."
After the war, President Truman offered Patterson a seat on the United States Supreme Court—an honor Patterson voluntary surrendered when the president decided he was indispensable at the War Department. As Secretary of War in 1945–47, Patterson presided over the demobilization of the great wartime forces and the dismantling of war industries. He frequently cautioned the nation against the precipitous dissipation of its armed strength in a disordered and still dangerous world.
Patterson died in an aircraft accident on January 22, 1952. He is remembered as a man of sterling integrity and as a supremely competent but completely selfless public servant.
The Hoover Institution's Keith Eiler is a retired lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Army and a historian. In addition to mobilization during World War II, his research focuses on strategic and operational dimensions of the war. He currently is preparing a study of the War Department's premier strategist of the early war years—an officer who later commanded U.S. forces in the China Theater and whom Eiler once served as an aide-de-camp—General Albert C. Wedemeyer.
The honorarium that accompanies the Uncommon Book Award is underwritten by a gift from Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Rita Ricardo-Campbell and Director Emeritus Glenn Campbell. The award recognizes the work of a Hoover fellow, or other person associated with Hoover, whose writing and research reaches the highest standards of scholarship on public policy issues. Thomas Sowell, the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, won the first Uncommon Book Award for Conquests and Cultures: An International History (Basic Books).