The chief criticism of our defense program so far has been its lack of coordination and planning. The Ways and Means Committee doesn't get together with Leon Henderson's Price Fixing office, the price fixers are still at odds with the priorities people, and the President has to set up a special Office of Facts just to keep the multifarious defense agencies informed about each other's activities. Perhaps the most important reason for this confusion is a lack of perspective, and Professor Harris' "Economics of American Defense" attempts to remedy this by presenting an integrated picture of the defense effort, the economic setting in which it is being undertaken, the resources that are available to it, the fiscal and international questions involved, and the problems of post-war adjustment.
The broad outlines of the book serve admirably to draw together the divergent threads which have been unravelling all over the Washington landscape. It brings out the sober facts about how much butter we will have to sacrifice to get enough guns. It is carefully documented, and goes into thorough detail. But the abundance of facts, and the assumption that the reader can supply the general economic background necessary to understand the relation between scores of separate conclusions makes this guide to the mazes of Defense tough going for the layman. He may wish that his author had given more thought to his audience, but if he perseveres, his reward will be a logical and connected picture of a development that overshadows everything else in America today.