Author Archives: David Wolf

About David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.

Rethinking Franklin

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the closest thing we have to a 20th Century secular American saint. But seven decades after his tragic passing, the time has come for us to set aside some of our received wisdom about his presidency, and examine anew the causes, conduct, and effects of the policies that defined his administration. So long as we approach the task without any other motive than to determine the truth, the effort should be applauded by all sides.

The problem is less one of forgetting the past and its meaning than of remembering the wrong things about it and drawing the wrong lessons from it. The characterization of “Greatest Generation” is a good example of a myth that, in Walter Lippmann’s phrase, is well meaning but unmeaning.

Maury Klein
A Call to Arms: Mobilizing America in World War II

 

Nationalism had been, before the war, a claim pressed by minorities against large multiethnic empires, but after Versailles it became a claim that minority groups asserted against one another.

– Yehuda Mirsky

Building Ships on an Assembly Line

A no-narration documentary showing the construction of a Liberty ship in just 4 days, 15 hours, and 29 minutes. In part, this was an effort to set a record, but in reality, it was a demonstration of a feat that America’s hidebound shipbuilding industry – and the Maritime Administration – doubted was possible. Shipbuilding was, after all, the ultimate bespoke industry.

The film shows the Permanente Metals No. 2 Shipyard in Richmond, California (just north of Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay) assembling the ship from sections as heavy as 80 tons.

It is hard to appreciate today, in an era where industries are disrupted on an almost daily basis – what this represents. But it is part of a story about World War II that was almost forgotten – that  it was less a matter of tactics, or strategy, or logistics that won the war. What won the war at almost every turn was improvisation, adaptability, and chutzpah.