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Book Review

“Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941”


BookCourtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Harriet Leitch

Random House

March 26, 2013


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576 pp.

Listening to the audio book of “Volume 3 of the Last Lion,” the biography of Winston Churchill during the war years, I was contemplating the reasons the United States didn’t enter the war when Britain’s need was so great. When we look at it today, it seems like a “slam-dunk.” I chose to read “Those Angry Days” hoping to more accurately fill out this time in our history. In large part, the answer is that this country had a large isolationist segment that did not want foreign entanglements of any sort. Our attitude was that Europe needed to settle its own disputes.

One of the leaders among the isolationists was Charles Lindbergh. He had lived in Europe in the ’30s with his family but moved back to the U.S. as the war heated up in Europe. America First was a premier isolationist organization started on the Yale campus. It was an America First rally in Des Moines in the fall of 1941 where Lindbergh gave the speech noted for its anti-Semitic tone. In the end he was anxious to serve the United States following Pearl Harbor, although FDR resisted Lindbergh’s request for reinstatement as a colonel in the Army Air Corps.

No matter what FDR wanted to do, taking the country to war was not solely his decision. He needed Congress to formally declare war. With anti-war sentiment running strong, he could not be openly pro-war lest he not be reelected. Also, the country was not prepared for war, and beefing up the military might of an isolationist nation was difficult.

The politics of that period provide some fascinating reading. Lynne Olson’s treatment of this time period made this book a delight. CV

Harriet Leitch retired a couple of years ago to enjoy her grandchildren, garden, train her dogs, play her flute and return to her love of books. An unrepentant history major, she especially enjoys biographies, history and the occasional mystery/detective story.

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