Academic journal article Military Review

Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight over World War II, 1939-1941

Academic journal article Military Review

Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight over World War II, 1939-1941

Article excerpt

THOSE ANGRY DAYS: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941, Lynne Olson, Random House, New York, 576 pages, $22.38

AMERICANS LIKE TO think of World War II as "The Good War": an unambiguous and unifying conflict that pitted the nation against the forces of evil. Although this narrative rings true, it masks the fact that in the two years prior to the U.S. entry into the war the American people and their political leaders were divided over the role that the Republic should play in the European crisis. In Those Angry Days, Lynne Olson chronicles the passionate, and at times vicious, domestic battles between the nation's isolationist and interventionist factions in trying to sway public policy toward giving American aid to France and Britain.

Olsen's wide-ranging narrative revolves around the key roles played by Charles Lindbergh and Franklin Roosevelt in the intervention debate. This personification of the dispute not only humanizes the period's diplomatic history, but also gives the reader a nuanced and balanced account of issues involved and the fervor that they sparked. As Olsen demonstrates, Lindbergh was far from the simple anti-Semite and pro-Nazi dupe that the Roosevelt administration and pro-intervention press often portrayed him to be, but was rather a man whose technical and clinical mind had him convinced that Britain could not win the war and America's lack of military preparedness meant that intervention was immoral, illogical, and suicidal. Roosevelt, on the other hand, believed that America's entry into the war was inevitable and thus support for the Allies was both a national security and a moral imperative. While Olsen credits Roosevelt for carefully building public consensus toward providing aid to Britain, she also notes that the president frequently displayed indecisive leadership and was far too fearful of allowing his policies to outpace public opinion. However, this did not stop him from using the power of the FBI and the pro-intervention press in "a dirty fight" to wiretap and investigate his isolationist foes and blacken their names at every turn. …

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