Those Angry Days

Those Angry Days

Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941

Book - 2013
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From the acclaimed author of Citizens of London comes the definitive account of the debate over American intervention in World War II--a 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 Franklin D. Roosevelt, who championed the interventionist cause, and aviator Charles Lindbergh, who as unofficial leader and spokesman for America's isolationists emerged as the president's most formidable adversary. Their contest of wills personified the divisions within the country at large, and Lynne Olson makes masterly use of their dramatic personal stories to create a poignant and riveting narrative. While FDR, buffeted by political pressures on all sides, struggled to marshal public support for aid to Winston Churchill's Britain, Lindbergh saw his heroic reputation besmirched--and his marriage thrown into turmoil--by allegations that he was a Nazi sympathizer.

Spanning the years 1939 to 1941, Those Angry Days vividly re-creates the rancorous internal squabbles that gripped the United States in the period leading up to Pearl Harbor. After Germany vanquished most of Europe, America found itself torn between its traditional isolationism and the urgent need to come to the aid of Britain, the only country still battling Hitler. The conflict over intervention was, as FDR noted, "a dirty fight," rife with chicanery and intrigue, and Those Angry Days recounts every bruising detail. In Washington, a group of high-ranking military officers, including the Air Force chief of staff, worked to sabotage FDR's pro-British policies. Roosevelt, meanwhile, authorized FBI wiretaps of Lindbergh and other opponents of intervention. At the same time, a covert British operation, approved by the president, spied on antiwar groups, dug up dirt on congressional isolationists, and planted propaganda in U.S. newspapers.

The stakes could not have been higher. The combatants were larger than life. With the immediacy of a great novel, Those Angry Days brilliantly recalls a time fraught with danger when the future of democracy and America's role in the world hung in the balance.

Praise for Those Angry Days

"Powerfully [re-creates] this tenebrous era . . . Olson captures in spellbinding detail the key figures in the battle between the Roosevelt administration and the isolationist movement." -- The New York Times Book Review

"Popular history at its most riveting . . . In Those Angry Days, journalist-turned-historian Lynne Olson captures [the] period in a fast-moving, highly readable narrative punctuated by high drama." --Associated Press
Publisher: New York : Random House, ©2013.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781400069743
Characteristics: xxii, 548 pages :,illustrated ;,24 cm


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Jan 30, 2014

Lynn Olson does it again: breathing life into history through vividly-portrayed characters at a crucial point in world events. Unlike her masterful "Citizens of London: How Britain Was Rescued in Its Darkest, Finest Hour," which focused on Edward R. Murrow, Averell Harriman, and John Gilbert Winant, or even her "Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped save England," it's not simply the struggle over isolationism vs intervention in Europe between Lindberg and Roosevelt, as the subtitle suggests. An array of characters on both sides of this crucial debate are profiled, including Philip Kerr, Marquess of Lothian and Ambassador to the US, and a colourful group of upper-crust USAmericans working out of an exclusive club in NY in support of the Brit fight against tyrrany. Wendell Willkie, who ran against FDR, and lost, yet whose sense of right exceeded his partiality to his party, to the chagrin of most isolationist Republicans.
If I have misgivings, it's the scant mention of Joe Kennedy's role in isolationist circles, given that he was the Ambassador to the UK and a Nazi sympathizer; US writers still have trouble writing openly about the family they wish was their royalty, it seems. Also, I quibble with her nil mention of Charlie Chaplin, who opposed all the going tides to express his loathing of Hitler, in "The Great Dictator." No mean achievement that, to put his money and career at risk and sail very much into prevailing winds. Otherwise, she makes interesting various ins-and-outs of internal, past US politicking--a subject that few could ever find gripping. Recommended nearly as much as her other superb books on this crucial era we can still call of "our" times.

Apr 18, 2013

A readable and remarkably detailed history of the period before Pearl Harbor when debate raged in the US over whether and how much to aid Britain in her struggle to avoid defeat by Hitler. Focusing on far more than the struggle between Lindbergh, the isolationist, and FDR who favored intervention but feared defeat in Congress if he moved too fast to aid England; Olson's book details the personalities and strategies of both sides in this epoch debate over the US role in world affairs in a forgotten era

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