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Five Days in Philadelphia: The Amazing "We Want Willkie!" Convention of 1940 and How It Freed FDR to Save the Western World Hardcover – July 5, 2005
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From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
From Bookmarks Magazine
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Peters recounts how Willkie - the only internationalist in a field of avowed isolationists -- wrested the Republican nod from the grip of Dewey, Taft and Vandenberg, each of whom was implacably opposed to providing material assistance to the Allies as the Nazi juggernaut marched across Europe. France's astonishing capitulation the day before the Convention opened was the biggest factor, Peters avers, in galvanizing popular and delegate support behind Willkie - though it took six ballots to put him over the top. He also details the role of the Luce media empire and a sympathetic press generally, Wall Street and Eastern Establishment interests, and a grassroots campaign orchestrated by Elihu Root's (former Sec of State) grandson played in advancing Willkie's Darkhorse candidacy.
We also see the always-politically-dexterous FDR orchestrating a putative "draft" at the Democratic convention in Chicago, thereby sparing himself the indignity of having to actively seek an unprecedented third term. The nip-and-tuck struggle to add Henry Wallace to the ticket as VP is also recalled in fascinating detail. (Wallace's principal opponent was the father of actress Tallulah Bankhead, then the Speaker of the House, who would be dead less than 60 days after the convention.Read more ›
Willkie's story (and political timing) make a good book and Charles Peters has done a very good job at enlightening the reader about Willkie's life, both personal and political. Born in 1892 to rather prominent citizens of Elwood, Indiana, Willkie eventually taught history in Coffeyville, Kansas before going on to become a lawyer. Peters points out that Willkie was in all ways larger than life, had a penchant for booze and cigarettes and had a lifelong "wandering eye" for women. His lengthy affair with Herald Tribune editor Irita Van Doren was kept private for the most part, although it is fascinating to think that the two major presidential candiates of 1940 could have had serious political troubles had their affairs been exposed.
Peters is at his best when he tells of the five days of the Republican convention in June, 1940. It's nice to be reminded of a time when the convention choices were actually decided at the conventions and not in an arduous primary system as we have today. The author captures the events dramatically....from the searing heat to the deal-making to the roaring demonstrations...all of this is related with wonderful intensity. Had it not been for key players like Sam Pryor and Joe Martin, Willkie would never have been able to overcome the forces of Thomas E.Read more ›
The story of one of the last consequential Party conventions in US history is an interesting tale but, unfortunately, I found author Peters not wholly up to the task. Folksy manner aside, he did not present a solidly convincing argument to support his thesis. Perhaps I am too used to more ponderous historical tomes but Peters' more journalistic and colloquial style just didn't satisfy.
This quick reading book does not seem to have much original scholarship. Most of the footnotes reveal the story to be gleaned from contemporary media accounts and secondary sources, but it certainly gives the reader a feel for how the country felt on the eve of the US entry into World War II. Peters also convincingly shows how out of touch the Republican Party of 1939-40 was with the fast as lightning, world shaking events that were occurring on a daily basis and how out of touch they were with many Americans. He also shows how Wilkie was just as much a media creation as a solid, grass roots candidate.
The author suffers from such hero worship of FDR, however, that he seems oblivious to the warts of the Roosevelt administration even as he relates them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good book for those who don't know much about the 1940 Campaign for Wendell Willkie. Those who are more knowledgeable will probably find it - as I did - superficial. Read morePublished on February 7, 2014 by TR wilson
Reading this book by the legendary founder of Washington Monthly, I thought, "wouldn't it be fun to see a Republican convention like this this year? Read morePublished on February 26, 2012 by Kelly Arile
I came to Charles Peters' study "Five Days in Philadelphia" (2005) after reading Steve Neal's biography of Wendell Willkie, "Dark Horse" Dark Horse: A Biography of Wendell Willkie. Read morePublished on February 16, 2011 by Robin Friedman
Books detailing the wheeling and dealing that takes place during the selection of presidential candidates can make for absorbing reading. This book is no exception. Read morePublished on January 6, 2010 by Paul F. Brooks
This little book is a bit like historian John Lukacs book "Five Days in London, May 1940" and the two make useful contributions to our understanding of the period. Read morePublished on June 11, 2008 by Michael T Kennedy
This book provides an interesting account of the republican convention of 1940 and the effects it had on the country. Read morePublished on September 15, 2007 by Lehigh History Student
The time frame for these historic event could not have been more compelling, the Repubican National convention of 1940. The lights had just gone out across Europe. Read morePublished on August 29, 2007 by JOHN GODFREY
Charles Peters tells a great tale, and it is a treat to read prose by one so gifted in the English language and so precise in his meaning. Read morePublished on April 11, 2006 by MediaCritic