Book Discussion: Louis Johnson and the Arming of America
6th Floor Boardroom
Woodrow Wilson Center
1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004
with David L. Roll, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP
David L. Roll (with co-author Keith D. McFarland) has written the definitive biography of Louis A. Johnson—the controversial lawyer and politician who was FDR's architect of industrial mobilization on the eve of WW II and Truman's embattled secretary of defense at the outbreak of the Korean War. As he was being "drafted" to run for his third term in the summer of 1940, Roosevelt dismissed Johnson but led him to believe he would be on the ticket as FDR's running mate. In 1948, Johnson raised the money that enabled Truman to pull off his stunning come-from-behind victory. As Truman's secretary of defense, Johnson was given the almost impossible job of unifying the armed forces and carrying out Truman's orders to drastically reduce defense expenditures. Johnson's conflicts with the likes of Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of War Harry Woodring, Winston Churchill, Harry Hopkins, a host of battle hardened navy admirals, Dean Acheson, and Paul Nitze find contemporary parallels in the recent disagreements between the national defense establishment and the State Department.
David L. Roll is a partner in and former chairman of Steptoe & Johnson, the Washington, D.C.-based international law firm founded by Louis Johnson and Philip Steptoe in West Virginia in 1913. Prior to joining Steptoe, he headed a team of antitrust lawyers at the Federal Trade Commission. Mr. Roll was educated at Amherst College and received his law degree from The University of Michigan Law School.
Keith McFarland is the President of Texas A&M University-Commerce (formerly East Texas State University). He holds a Ph.D. in history and has published numerous articles, scholarly publications and book reviews dealing with twentieth century military history. Dr. McFarland is the author of Harry H. Woodring: A Political Biography of FDR's Controversial Secretary of War (University Press of Kansas) and The Korean War: An Annotated Bibliography (Garland Press).