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From Munich to Pearl Harbor: Roosevelt's America and the Origins of the Second World War (American Ways Series) [Paperback]

David Reynolds
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 5, 2002 1566633907 978-1566633901
A master historian's provocative new interpretation of FDR's role in the coming of World War II. Brilliant. —Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. American Ways Series.

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From Munich to Pearl Harbor: Roosevelt's America and the Origins of the Second World War (American Ways Series) + From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 (Oxford History of the United States)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cambridge University fellow Reynolds (One World Divisible: A Global History Since 1945) provides a succinct, accurate account of FDR's rhetoric and policy decisions that positioned America for war in the days between Chamberlain's disastrous 1938 Munich agreement and the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Despite its brevity, this workmanlike book catalogues FDR's efforts to "educate" America's overwhelmingly isolationist electorate to the need for the U.S. to play a high-profile role in evolving world events. At the same time, it gives a fair Cliffs Notes-style summary of FDR's work to support anti-Axis governments up until the time American sentiment swung around to favor intervention, adopting the Lend-Lease bill to re-arm Britain and loosening the constraints of the Neutrality Act. Reynolds posits that America's eventual role in the war set the stage for the nation to become a leader in the postwar confrontation with world Communism. Serious scholars will quibble with at least one aspect of Reynolds's approach. While stating that his book "is rooted" in his "own primary research, particularly in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (Hyde Park, N.Y.), and in the National Archives and Library of Congress," Reynolds does not favor readers with detailed source notes and instead provides a bibliographical essay focused entirely on published sources, not one of which is linked directly (through footnotes or otherwise) to any of the numerous quotations in the book.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

How did an insular, perhaps even "isolationist," U.S. move with apparent smoothness and willingness to the role of global defender of world stability and democratic values? Reynolds, a fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge University, credits the views and policies of FDR that evolved in the 1930s. Roosevelt, who had once doubted the wisdom of American intervention in World War I, viewed the creation of totalitarian regimes as a global phenomenon that required a global response, because these regimes threatened American values and security. The result was an increasingly assertive American foreign policy in both Europe and the Pacific Rim in the late 1930s. Furthermore, Reynolds asserts, the attitudes and policies that evolved then, particularly a bipolar worldview, which saw an ongoing conflict between totalitarianism and freedom, led inevitably to the cold war. Reynolds may neglect the reactive aspects of our foreign policy while overemphasizing the ideological elements. Still, his thesis is both interesting and credible, and it is bound to stimulate further debate. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: American Ways Series
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee (August 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566633907
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566633901
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #866,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Resource Material February 22, 2008
I had to read this book as part of a foreign relations class I'm taking. It did a great job of presenting the historical context without getting too dull or bogged down with details. In addition, I really liked how well it portrayed FDR as a person, rather than just as a political figure. You get more insight into his personality, personal beliefs, and ideals with this book than with most other historical accounts I've come accross. If you're more interested in the social and political aspects of war than the details of battles and treaties, you'll probably really like this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
For those people who thought Pearl Harbor brought us into the Second World War, Reynolds argues that FDR's actions were bringing us closer to an alliance with Churchill's Great Britain and Stalin's USSR. Pearl Harbor was the last action which convinced the American public that war was necessary. Before that, Reynolds argues that the isolationist mood in the U.S. was high and oppossed to more involvement in Europe. Roosevelt helped as much as possible through the destroyer deal and lend lease to help Great Britain and the USSR. If it hadn't been for Pearl Harbor, NAZI Germany may have overwhelmed the USSR and Great Britain. In this thesis, he also argues that signal intelligence was missed which resulted in Pearl Harbor, but there was no conspiracy.
Reynolds book is somewhat dry, but the details show how FDR worked to get us into the good war. He led the USA into public opinion about the reasons why the country should support the Soviet Union and Great Britain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very comprehensive and informative August 28, 2013
By Ron
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While a very good study of America's entry into World War 2 and the surrounding politics, I did not find this book to be a very "compelling" read. In fact, it read just like a school text book. I found myself asking, "is there going to be a test on this tomorrow?" Still, very informative and considering its short length, I would recommend it.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My history instructor used this book to teach his class (along with a couple other books), so it was required reading -- I either read it or I failed the class. Luckily, my instructor knows how to pick good books. I read the whole thing in an afternoon. It was that good! Of course, I love history (especially WW2 history) so it doesn't take much to keep me interested, but this book deviated from the standard "Germany is bad and America saved the day" format. Reynolds introduced a new twist on events leading up to the war. He shows how America's hesitation to "get involved" affected European attitudes and potentially did more harm than good. Clearly, Reynolds did his research. He created a beautiful, rhythmic song from an eclectic and diverse collection of literary instruments. This book will make you think deeply about America's ambiguous policy of isolationist internationalism.
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