Liberty Factory

The Untold Story of Henry Kaiser's Oregon Shipyards

  • Subject: Battleships, Destroyers and More
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Illustrations:
    100 b/w illustrations
  • Published:
    January 15, 2021
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Product Dimensions:
    10.25 × 8.5 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    33 oz
Hardcover $61.95
Member Price $49.56 Save 20%
Book: Cover Type


Churchill famously claimed that the only thing that had really frightened him during the war was the Battle of the Atlantic. Keeping open the lifeline between the US “arsenal of democracy” and the UK was essential to preparations for the invasion of Europe and in the final analysis this came down to building merchant ships faster than German U-boats could sink them.

Crucial to this achievement was the British-designed “Liberty Ship,” a simple cargo ship that could be built rapidly, combined with the untapped industrial potential of the U.S. that could build them in vast numbers. Undoubtedly the most important individual in the rapid expansion of U.S. wartime shipyard capacity was Henry Kaiser, a man with no previous shipbuilding experience but an entrepreneur of vision and drive. This book tells the story of how he established huge new yards using novel mass-production techniques in the most surprising location—Oregon, one of the least industrially developed areas of the US and one without an existing pool of skilled labor to draw on.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

Liberty Factory is lavishly illustrated…. It is a fascinating industrial history, one as much about people as ships. It offers an absorbing look at Home Front America during World War II, and perfectly captures mid-20th century America.” —Richochet
“The book is rich with photographs, documenting visually, what the author is telling us.” —Virtual Mirage
“Richly illustrated.” —Deutsches Maritimes Kompetenz Netz
“A fine technical, social and human story of wartime endurance and dedication which extended beyond Vanport to workers of all the allied nations. Liberty Factory is most highly recommended.” —Australian Naval Institute
“Peter J. Marsh tells ‘the untold story of Henry Kaiser’s Oregon shipyards’ in Liberty Factory, a book filled with striking black-and-white images.” —Navy Reads
“This important volume is a labor of love by the journalist Peter J. Marsh, a visual masterpiece thanks to Lawrence Barber, and a tribute to Henry J. Kaiser’s vision and the Portland area’s natives and migrants from throughout the United States whose efforts contributed to winning World War II. The photographs and maps are excellent and the narrative compelling. It is certainly an important contribution to our understanding of wartime industrial production issues, problem-solving, and supply and demand as well as the unsung importance of the region.” —Naval Historical Foundation
“[A] brilliantly researched and illustrated book. It is both a great maritime history and a business inspiration.” —Baird Maritime
Liberty Factory is a nicely illustrated large-format book that will appeal to readers interested in wartime shipbuilding and local history, particularly on the west coast of the United States and in Oregon.” —The Northern Mariner / Le marin du nord
Liberty Factory is a fascinating industrial history, one as much about people as ships. It offers an absorbing look at Home Front America during World War II, and perfectly captures mid-twentieth-century America. Anyone interested in World War II shipbuilding and ships will enjoy it.” —Nautical Research Journal
“Author Peter Marsh adds enormously to one’s understanding of wartime shipbuilding by guiding us photographically on a spellbinding tour of entrepreneur Kaiser’s impelling Oregon shipyards.” —ARGunners
“Author Marsh has done an outstanding job presenting the history of the Portland area’s wartime shipbuilding industry and its impact on the yard workers as well as the region. The book’s large format, high-quality photo reproduction from original negatives, and well-written text will appeal to nautical and naval enthusiasts alike.” —Sea Classics
“Shipyards in Portland, Oregon, built hundreds of ships during World War II. This fascinating book tells how it was done, from constructing the shipyards by adapting the assembly line concept to building ships with standardized parts made elsewhere. It also includes excellent photos, an index and source notes.” —The Ensign