Tooze, J. Adam
Tooze, J. Adam
Office—Jesus College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB5 8BL, England. E-mail—[email protected]
University of Cambridge, Jesus College, Cambridge, England, senior lecturer in modern European economic history, Gurnee Hart Fellow in history and Director of Studies.
Philip Leverhulme Prize for modern history, 2002; H-Soz-Kult Historisches Buch Prize, 2002, for Statistics and the German State 1900-1945: The Making of Modern Economic Knowledge.
The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy, Allan Lane (London, England), 2006, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to books, including Imagining Nations, 1998. Contributor to periodicals, including Economic History Review.
J. Adam Tooze is a historian who specializes in modern economics, particularly in the economics of the Third Reich in Germany. The era that saw the Nazi regime seize power in Europe has been researched, analyzed, and reported in painstaking detail, and yet, Tooze's book The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy manages to make a significant new contribution to the field of Nazi history. According to Bertrand Benoit, a reviewer for the Financial Times, Tooze's book is an "astonishingly erudite study" that "not only uncovers new explanatory strands for the events that led to and ended the war, but smashes a gallery of preconceptions on the way."
One of those preconceptions is the notion that Germany went to war in 1939 as a powerful industrial nation. In fact, Tooze shows in The Wages of Destruction that at that time, Germany's agricultural output was poor, its resources were few, and the standard of living for most of its people was far below that in the United States or the United Kingdom. Germany's economy was really on the brink of collapse, and the country's poor financial health may have been the greatest reason for its eventual defeat by the allies, according to Tooze's book. The author explains the specific ways that Germany's economic situation affected the course of the war. For example, a desperate need for resources was behind Germany's ruthless looting of the territories it occupied. Countries to the east were used as sources of food, workers, and raw materials for the benefit of Germany. British and American bombing campaigns further crippled German industry and the country's economy. Tooze also offers insight into Hitler's economic aspirations, explaining how the dictator not only regarded the United States as an enemy, but also as a role model. The huge size of the United States and its expansion west, at the expense of the Native American tribes, was something Hitler hoped to mirror with an eastward expansion and genocide of the inhabitants of the countries he occupied. Reviewing the book for the Live Journal Web site, Randy McDonald commented: "Tooze's economic history is gripping, not only because it's an economic history that presents compelling arguments but because of its insights into Nazism."
The Wages of Destruction was recommended in Kirkus Reviews as "a strong contribution to the historical literature surrounding WWII and the Nazi era; indeed, one of the most significant to arrive in recent years." History Today reviewer Nicholas Stargardt stated that Tooze's book stands as "the definitive account of the Nazi economy," but went on to add that the author "has done much more than that. He has also rewritten the history of the Second World War. By thinking afresh about what Hitler's war aims really were and how the Nazi leadership attempted first to win and then prolong a war for which they knew they never possessed sufficient resources, Tooze has produced the most striking history of German strategy in the Second World War that we possess. This is an extraordinary achievement."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2007, Brendan Driscoll, review of The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy, p. 8.
Financial Times, August 5, 2006, Bertrand Benoit, review of The Wages of Destruction, p. 29.
History Today, December, 2006, Nicholas Stargardt, review of The Wages of Destruction, p. 64.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2007, review of The Wages of Destruction, p. 117.
Library Journal, February 15, 2007, Antonio Thompson, review of The Wages of Destruction, p. 134.
Spectator, June 24, 2006, Noble Frankland, review of The Wages of Destruction.
Live Journal,http://rfmcdpei.livejournal.com/ (September 14, 2007), Randy McDonald, review of The Wages of Destruction.