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Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941 [Hardcover]

Lynne Olson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 April 2013

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
“Filled with fascinating anecdotes and surprising twists . . . With this stirring book, Lynne Olson confirms her status as our era’s foremost chronicler of World War II politics and diplomacy.”—Madeleine K. Albright
“[An] absorbing chronicle . . . [Olson] doesn’t so much revisit a historical period as inhabit it; her scenes flicker as urgently as a newsreel.”The Christian Science Monitor
“Masterfully describes America’s conflicting opinions before Pearl Harbor . . . a comprehensive take on another era of angry divisions.”Richmond Times-Dispatch

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (20 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400069742
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069743
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.8 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 354,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another superb book by Lynne Olson 19 Mar 2013
By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER
There are already six excellent reviews on Amazon/USA of Lynne Olson's new book, "Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941 (now THAT'S a mouthful!) and I can't add much to them. I've read Olson's previous books and found her to be an excellent thinker and writer of history. This book continues the trend.

Olson looks at the two year period through the eyes of Charles and Anne Lindbergh, among others. She goes further than most historians, considering the Lindberghs: their lives, their beliefs, and their effect on the US and world politics. Her's is one of the first books written since the news of Lindbergh's "double life" after WW2 - a life with three additional "wives" and 7 out-of-wedlock children, in Germany - was revealed a few years ago. As this is a relatively small part of the much larger book, Olson's inclusion of it puts a bit of a spin on Lindbergh's actions as being sympathetic to Germany and totally anti-Britain in those pre-war years when he was so very active in the "America First" group.

She also looks at the strange dance between Churchill and Roosevelt after England declared war on Germany in 1939 and the dark, dark days of 1940 and 1941. Both leaders knew that Britain was on the edge of annihilation without the naval and aircraft aid and materiel she could only get from the United States. Of course, the United States was also woefully unprepared for war. Churchill, through his very interesting and well-liked ambassador in Washington, Lord Lothian, was able to talk to Roosevelt in doing more for England. Lothian was also in contact to the various politicians and business people called "interventionists", who were active behind the scenes in urging the United States to enter the war on the Allied side.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The heroics it took to turn American opinion 7 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a thrilling story and a memorable book, even when knowing the outcome beforehand. It interestingly shows quite a few parallels with today and raises many questions about the democratic process. America believed it had been duped into joining WW1 and, despite the efforts of the likes of William Shirer and Ed Murrow, was not about to put as much trust in perfidious Albion again (anyway, its army then was no bigger than Britain's today). There was, justifiably so, the pathological fear of giving the President too much power, an incumbent refusing to take the initiative when he needed to and would certainly have won, and all too often bling followed by inertia. Obstructive Republicans, bar some notable exceptions, took positions quite contrary to what the Gallup polls were showing. Influence peddling was rife; opinion swaying was in the hands of the elite plus a few secretly implanted Brits; an East Coast clique showed its profound differences with the rest of the country; Hollywood was fearful that its Eastern European connections would be perceived as sources of propaganda and stir up anti-Semitic fervour. The book explores in detail the huge effort and heroics it took to turn American opinion, the battles required merely to supply a bunch of rusted WW1 destroyers to keep the Atlantic lanes open in 1940 and then for Lend-Lease. Increasingly, those who were not on board, including Lindbergh, were written off as pro-Nazi. The House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) invented McCarthyism before the man himself. Even the ACLU banned extremist politics in its ranks. Gradually things started to move, America occupied Iceland in a move that justified the protection of Britain-bound convoys to that point. But in grim reality it took Pearl Harbor and Germany's declaration of war after it before things really got going in order to save Europe. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You know the history 6 July 2013
By bernie VINE VOICE
We all know that Britain suckered the U.S. into the war. But wait; now let's get the complete picture of what everyone was really thinking not just doing.

We get a complete picture of each of the major players and actually pictures of the different people from the time in context. Her writing is well rounded and she is empathetic to each view.

This is one book that you do not want to overlook as just more history.

Oh di I forget to mention that Lynn Olson is an interesting writer, not dry and boring.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Story...Magnificent Story Teller 26 July 2013
By James Gallen TOP 1000 REVIEWER
We often think of World War II as The Good War that enjoyed universal support. "Those Angry Days" reminds us that such was not so at the beginning and that America's entry was, in many respects, a close run thing. This book examines the debate over America's involvement in the war that took place from 1939-1941. Although including many names we recognize, it focuses on President Franklin Roosevelt who was maneuvering to lead America into the war, and aviation hero Charles Lindbergh who was the most prominent isolationist opposing American entry.

Author Lynne Olson skillfully lays out the characters, famous and obscure, as she guides the reader through the sequence of events that led to the fateful decision to become a belligerent. Senators Burton Wheeler, Gerald Nye, Robert Taft and William Borah led the opposition to anything that threatened to bring the war closer to America's shores. The isolationist America First organization's records included names that would later become famous including future Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart, future Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Kingman Brewster, Sargent, Gerald Ford and Gore Vidal. Although not a member, John F. Kennedy sent a contribution. Publisher William Allen White led the opposition "Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies". Even the military was divided with Gen. Marshall and CNO Stark both opposing early aid to Britain as a drain on America's own defense. Air Force Gen. Hap Arnold was suspected as being the source of a potentially damaging leak while other officers undermined efforts to bring America into the ranks of the warring powers. British Ambassador Lord Lothian played a major role in swaying of American opinion toward Britain.
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