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New e-book highlights the economic factors influencing the outcome of World War II

book cover
A new e-book co-edited by award-winning economic historian Professor Mark Harrison of Warwick Economics and CAGE has been published in the week of the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe.

'Economics of the Second World War: Seventy-Five Years on,’ co-edited by Mark Harrison and by Stephen Broadberry, Professor of Economic History at Oxford University, aims to provide new insight into the significant and sometimes overlooked role that economists played in shaping the conduct of the war and its ultimate outcome.

The e-book, which is free to download, brings together leading economists and historians to reflect on a wide range of aspects of the war.

Its 16 chapters cover war plans and preparations, the conduct of the war, economic warfare, economic exploitation, the role of economists, and the war’s consequences for demography, inequality, economic recovery, and political attitudes.

While the focus of the book is on the history of the war, the editors were struck by many parallels between ‘the profound disruptions of the war’ and the actions which have become necessary to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Harrison comments: “Writing in the early months of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, it’s clear to us that our world continues to experience episodes that remind us of the profound disruptions of twentieth-century wartime.

“The public interest suddenly requires the limitation of normal work and leisure. Government directives demand that everyone plays their part. Corporate strategies, family plans, and personal goals are suddenly upended. Each citizen must rebalance personal ambition, family attachments, and the claims of society. There are casualties and losses. Some make sacrifices, while others are sacrificed.

“Under these circumstances, it seems that it might be useful to know a few things about what happened and how it worked out the last time our society was engulfed by an all-consuming emergency.”

  • 'Economics of the Second World War: Seventy-Five Years On’ is published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and is available as a free download. 
  • Read Professor Harrison's column introducing the e-book.


Stephen Broadberry is Professor of Economic History, Oxford University and Director of the Economic History Programme at CEPR. He is co-editor with Mark Harrison of The Economics of World War I (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and the 2018 CEPR eBook, The Economics of the Great War: A Centennial Perspective.

Mark Harrison is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick and a CEPR Research Fellow. His latest book is The Soviet economy and the approach of war, 1937-1939 (with R. W. Davies, Oleg Khlevniuk, and S. G. Wheatcroft). This book, and the series that it concludes, received the Alexander Nove Award for Distinguished Scholarship of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies in 2020.



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