Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941
2013 nonfiction book by Lynn Olson
bitter, sometimes violent clash of personalities and ideas that divided the nation and ultimately determined the fate of the free world. At the center of this controversy stood the two most famous men in America: President … see full wiki
When Adolf Hitler made the fateful decision to invade Poland on September 1, 1939 most Americans were bound and determined to stay out of another conflict on the European continent. Just two decades earlier more than 116,000 American boys lost their lives and another 205,000 were wounded in the Great War. With a history of avoiding foreign entanglements dating back to the Washington administration and indelible memories of the carnage from World War I still haunting them an increasing number of Americans had embraced isolationism as their worldview. As events unfolded over the next couple of years American public opinion would fluctuate as our most influential politicians and commentators debated the wisdom of providing badly needed assistance to our British allies and perhaps entering the fray ourselves. No doubt about it...this was an extremely tumultuous time in American history. Lynne Olson has captured the very essence of this period in her stirring new book "Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941". In this meticulously researched book you will discover why one of America's most revered figures would lose all credibility with large segments of his fellow citizens and why the President of the United States was slow to move and so reluctant to get the nation involved in yet another war.
In 1938 Charles Lindbergh visited Europe to assess the Allies capabilities to fight a war against the Germans. Lindbergh was convinced that neither the French nor the British stood a chance against the vastly superior German air force known as the Luftwaffe. When they were still on speaking terms it was actually Lindbergh's reports of German air superiority that served to convince FDR to order a massive increase in U.S. aircraft production. This proved to be an important decision because at that time the American military was in pitiful shape. The U.S. Army Air Corps had just a few hundred aircraft, many of which were obsolete and fewer than 19000 enlisted men and officers. But Charles Lindbergh wanted no part of another war in Europe. Just two weeks after the Nazi invasion of Poland, Lindbergh gave a speech carried by all 3 national radio networks opposing U.S. involvement. Lindberg would quickly become the champion of the isolationist cause in America much to the chagrin of his wife Anne. The isolationists were a large, vocal, and powerful movement during this period. These were men and women from every walk of American life. In the halls of Congress the movement was led by a handful of vocal Republican senators led by Burton K Wheeler (MT) and Gerald Nye (ND). Meanwhile, the America First Committee (AFC) would emerge as the leading non-interventionist group in America.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt found himself between a rock and a hard place. The President recognized that the conflict threatened U.S. security and he looked for ways to help the European democracies without our direct involvement in the war. The situation became much more acute with the successful German invasion of France in June 1940. This left Great Britain as the only democracy standing between Nazi Germany and the United States. London had been battered and bruised by relentless German air strikes and the British government found itself nearly bankrupt. They desperately needed our assistance. Complicating matters was the fact that Mr. Roosevelt faced a difficult reelection battle later in the year. FDR would move very slowly and cautiously, much to the chagrin of Winston Churchill and the interventionist forces in this country who firmly believed that it was the duty of America to come to the aid of the Allies. As you will discover in the pages of "Those Angry Days" the battle for the heart and soul of a nation would become increasingly nasty as time wore on. While the focus is on Roosevelt and Lindbergh Lynne Olson also introduces us to many other prominent players on both sides of the issue and to the tactics they employed to gain the upper hand in this great national debate. I must tell you that after reading just a couple of chapters I found myself totally immersed in this controversy as if it were 1939 all over again. The amount of detail that Lynne Olson offers in her book is truly remarkable.
"Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941" is an exceptionally well-written and meticulously researched volume featuring more than forty pages of detailed footnotes. I knew precious little about this extremely important chapter in our nation's history and feel confident that Lynne Olson has gotten me up-to-speed. In my opinion "Those Angry Days" would be a great choice for history buffs and general readers alike. This is American history at its absolute best and an important addition to the literature of the Second World War. Very highly recommended!
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