DAVID A. TAYLOR
CORK WARS: INTRIGUE AND INDUSTRY IN WORLD WAR II (Johns Hopkins University Press), involves three families in World War II caught up in immigration, spies and cork. When Hitler’s Atlantic blockade cut American supply lines, cork companies and their workers got embroiled in a life-and-death geopolitical struggle. What began as commerce grew into a global drama with sabotage, espionage, and profiteering.
America imported nearly half of the world’s cork production, in huge bales shipped from the Mediterranean. Cork was a sealant crucial to U.S. industry and national security.
In Spain and Portugal, cork oak grows in forests and groves where harvesters strip the cork from the trunks every eight to ten years without hurting the tree.
During World War II, cork professionals served as OSS informants for commercial espionage against Nazi Germany.
Little-known fact: Before cheap plastic, cork was crucial for all kinds of industry. The defense industry needed cork to produce bomber planes, ships and equipment. Throughout World War II and after, Arbor Day across the U.S. featured state governors urging radio audiences to help keep America free by planting cork oaks. In response, 4-H groups, boy scouts and garden clubs across the country did their patriotic duty.
ABOUT DAVID A. TAYLOR
David Taylor writes about revealing connections between people and their worlds. His writing about people, food, health and science has appeared in Smithsonian, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, Outside, The Christian Science Monitor, Science, and Oxford American.