THE ORIGINAL PLAN FOR THIS BOOK WAS TO SURVEY WITHout any particular interpretation the history of our foreign relations during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Perhaps the year 1945, when this plan took shape, explains its simplicity. In that year of victory over the Axis and of American entry into the United Nations, the pre-Pearl Harbor quarrels between isolationists and internationalists seemed to have been generally resolved in favor of the internationalists. When an issue ceases to exist, the time is ripe for an historical obituary.
But in this case an obituary would have been premature. Besides showing signs of life in the political arena since 1945, isolationism has found champions among historians, led by the late Dr. Charles A. Beard, who deny that internationalism vanquished their cause. They offer seemingly valid evidence to support the view that the President plotted to carry the United States into the Second World War contrary to his public professions of peaceful intent, in violation of constitutional limits on his authority, and contrary to the desire of the Axis leaders to avoid war with the United States. Confronted by this challenging interpretation, I studied the evidence, trying to discover whether it had been fairly treated by the isolationists.
My examination of the evidence convinced me that their thesis is based on omissions, distortions, and falsifications. Therefore I abandoned my original plan and turned to write not merely a factual account of events but also a point-by-point refutation of the isolationist thesis, and to present the internationalist argument in favor of President Roosevelt's conduct of foreign relations.