At the center of the debate over American intervention in World War II 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.
©2013 Lynne Olson (P)2013 Tantor
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
This is a very informative and interesting audio. My husband and I listened to it on a cross-country road trip, and it took up a fair number of days and states! We learned a lot!
Both a history of the contentious battle leading up to WWII and a semi-biography of Lindbergh (and, to an extent his wife Ann,) this new work by Lynne Olson succeeds on the first count but falls a bit short on the second. So many people were involved in the anti-war and America First movements, and their motives were so varied, that the account and the cast of characters is sometimes too complicated to follow, and the Lindberghs are absent for much of the discussion. I found myself wanting to get back to them.
But this is at heart the tale of two very different, very opinionated, very stubborn men of great influence in a turbulent time. Hearing their story (and that of other pro-and-anti-WWII activists) is a reminder that no action in American history has been without controversy, not even the response to the Hitler movement in Germany. Some of those who opposed war were genuinely and earnestly convinced that involvement in WWII would be disastrous for America - they were labeled traitors and anti-Semites. Those who wanted to come to the aide of Britain were called war-mongers. It is painful to recognize in these historical arguments the same short-sighted intolerance and vicious personal attacks which are so common in today's politics.
Japan ultimately settled the argument between the interventionists and the isolationists.
Lynne Olson justly reminds us that such periods of debate should not be forgotten.
Books worth the money are those biographies about our Founding Fathers. Or THE LONG WALK and/or UNBROKEN Try THE LONG WALK a
Good listen. Good history. No "thrills." Stuff that will keep a crusty old curmudgeon tuned in.
Lindbergh for stiffing his mother-in-law who tried to stiff him.
Lynn Olsen's CITIZENS OF LONDON is a historical masterpiece.
FDR/Lindbergh is good but not THAT good.
This is another terrific history book from Lynne Olson. Even though I knew the general outlines of the period, 1936 to 1941, I certainly did not know all of the players, all of the factions, machinations, FDR's political jockeying and poll-watching, Lindbergh and his long suffering wife (and mother in law). Olson makes great use of all kinds of evidence, speeches, letters, newspapers, newsreels, movies and diplomatic dispatches to knit together the time in such a way that you feel as if you were there. The narrator is also very good.
Lynne Olson has given us a very interesting and comprehensive study of the political “conversation” that went on in the US in the last couple of years prior to America’s entry into World War II. Her book takes us behind both the scenes and the public face of the organizations involved in trying to influence political opinion and decisions in the US and the story has all of the interest of current events. The main characters in the story are not only the high political figures in the US, Britain and Germany but also important figures in the US and foreign military, the US press and the general public. She describes in great detail the efforts both to drag the US into the war and the efforts of those opposed, not only to US entry into the war, but also to US help for Britain prior to Pearl Harbor.
The current myth concerning the run-up to the entry of the US into World War II is that Franklin Roosevelt led the US into understanding the need to help the British and his leadership in providing that help. Ms Olsons books shows a very different President - one extremely reluctant to get ahead of public opinion, making promises about help and then doing nothing to implement those promises, telling people he would do one thing and then changing his mind and always, always looking at the public polls before taking any actions. This book shows a President being dragged into providing help by the public which was always far ahead of him. This is not a new view of the pre-war years and Joseph Lash, in his 1975 book Roosevelt and Churchill, made the same point. But it is a point worth repeating because the facts belie the myth. This is not an anti-Roosevelt book and Ms Olson is anything but a conservative author but this book will be uncomfortable for some readers.
The tableau that the book covers include many of those involved in the “conversation” - Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Harold Ickes, Burton Wheeler, Hamilton Fish, Gerald Nye, John McCormick, Frank Knox, Henry Stimson, George Marshall, Hap Arnold, Lord Lothian, Albert Wedemeyer, Joachim von Ribbentrop, J Edgar Hoover, William Donovan, William Stevenson, Charles Lindbergh and many others - and the story of their efforts to draw the US into the war, keep the US out of the war or try to straddle a middle course during the turbulent times, forms the core of the book and thus provides an extraordinarily helpful addition to understanding the period prior to US entry into the war. While there may not be much that is new here, the book is unique in that its subject is not the war nor the efforts to provide help to the allies, but rather the political and social arguments that took place leading up to the war that ended up providing that help. In that, this book provides a great service to understanding the period and hence the decisions.
The book also serves to dispel other existing myths. America First was founded by young student leftists, not by conservative politicians. Lindbergh was against US entry into the war because he believed we were unprepared, would likely be defeated and would lose our liberties at home. He was not a Nazi sympathizer nor did he want them to win. General Wedemeyer was not the officer who leaked the Victory Program papers to the Senate isolationist. And others.
Robert Fass’ narration is well done, although a bit show, and I did not hear any production problems with the recording. I did, however, have to play the book at 1.25 x speed to avoid the slow pace of speech. Once that was done the book flowed well with no problems.
I've been reading the last of the Manchester Biography of Winston Churchill, which of course, deals primarily about WWII and the peril Briton faced before US involvement. Those Angry days works in perfect tandem,showing the period from our side of the Atlantic. Olson's work is well researched, balanced and well presented. A joy. I can only hope that it reaches a wide audience.
What a great book! Learned that FDR wasn't always such a great leader but spent a lot of time being just another politician, that Lindbergh was really quite a jerk, and that politics is politics no matter what era you lived through. All in all a really good book.
Professor of American and World History at a community college. Enjoys hard science fiction, space fantasy and space opera, fantasy, and historical narratives. Heck, I'll read anything once!
I've listened to several non-fiction, historical works on audio over the years. This is in my top five, mostly for the depth of information presented without getting lost in minutia. The reader's performance (Robert Fass) is solid enough and does not distract from the information which is the real star here.
In many respects, this book reminded me of The Zimmerman Telegram. Not in content or historical period of course. Those Angry Days is about the late 1930s, The Zimmerman Telegram about World War I. What makes me compare them is the depth of information I didn't know.
I'm both a student and professor of history. I've done quite a bit of study and research into the periods in both books, and they both offered up to me quite a bit of information I did not know. Those Angry Days did so even more than I could have expected. It dashed quite a few of my cherished "beliefs" about the period running up to America's involvement in World War II, especially regarding FDR's conduct and attitude.
New information is refreshing.
New information presented well is outstanding!
At this length, hardly! But, that's not a bad thing. This is a book to be savored, not sprinted through. It's not a page-turner in the knuckle-biting suspense or action genre--it's a historical treatise, packed with information and insight. It's a book to be studied not plowed through.
Perhaps Lynne Olson put too much into her book proposal. I liked the coverage of Robert Sherwood, and Lord Lothian, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I thought she was neglectful of some major aspects of prewar politics, e.g. the Popular Front and the Communist tergiversation. I don't even remember whether there was anything in here on Spain. Did I miss that?
I would say that it ranks in the top 10
The revelation of how prevalent (and acceptable) anti-semitism was in the US before WWII
This tells the interesting and dramatic story of the clash between the interventionists and non-interventionists in the months between the invasion of Poland and the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is little remembered today how bitter and divisive that fight was. The story also reveals the attempts by both the German and British governments to influence public opinion in their respective favors. Overall, it is a good listen and is very informative about a little known chapter in American history.
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