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

Lynne Olson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (336 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description


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

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Olson’s fourth history pivoting around the year 1940 chronicles America’s debate about intervention in WWII. To recall its vituperative tone, something long since forgotten by the popular memory of wartime national unity, Olson incorporates the venomous vernacular in which advocates and opponents of intervention assailed each other into her time-line reportage of the controversy as it was affected by war news, the 1940 election, and such war preparations as the enactment of conscription and lend-lease. FDR’s brawling secretary of the interior, Harold Ickes, took naturally to the idiom of vitriol, labeling isolationists as Nazis and traitors. As for the isolationist organization America First, Olson recounts its campaign to sway public opinion, which was more hindered than helped by the political obtuseness of its celebrity spokesman, Charles Lindbergh. Underscoring the period’s passionate animosities, Olson parallels their playing-out in mass media and their sub rosa manifestations in illegal wiretaps and British espionage. Humanizing public events with private strains, on, for example, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Olson delivers a fluid rendition of a tempestuous time. --Gilbert Taylor


"Robert Fass's narration is calm and dispassionate---until he's reading the actual words of those involved. Then, emotions come through. Listeners will feel the anger from both corners, taking them back to tense pre-WWII debates." ---AudioFile

Product Details

  • File Size: 5450 KB
  • Print Length: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (March 26, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009UAO1ZG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,919 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
127 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A familiar world from long ago March 10, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In Lynne Olson's substantial new volume, we are plunged into an America both distant and familiar. It is impossible to read more than a few pages before realizing how little our fundamental national character has changed in the 70 years since these events. This is the nation as it was when Hitler's ambitions were becoming reality--the invasions of Poland and the Low Countries, the Battle of Britain. It was becoming evident in distant America that war was coming here. Two schools of thought were beginning to form. The interventionists saw the United States as a key to stopping the growth of Germany. They saw kindred spirits in England and the peoples already under the Nazi yoke. Isolationists cared little about the rest of the world and could not see the point of sacrificing America's youth in yet another European war.

Either of those positions is an honorable place to be, and it's a perfectly good thing to debate them. But this is America and we don't quite do things that way. There were other groups--less honorable--who attached themselves to these positions. It didn't take long for racists, profiteers and zealots to begin questioning the motives of the other groups. Over the course of months, charges of Communism, Fascism, Socialism, anti-Semitism began to be hurled back and forth. News outlets affiliated themselves with one side, issuing scurrilous charges against their opponents. It is not hard to find strong parallels in later events. Debates around Vietnam and Iraq resonate with the same fervor and distrust. Olson doesn't make this point directly. She doesn't need to.

The author has chosen two protagonists to carry much of the narrative. Roosevelt is an obvious choice.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much More Exciting Than Expected! March 8, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's a real tribute to a non-fiction writer when their 28 Chapter, 520-page account of history is a page-turner. The reader won't want to stop reading and when the book is done, the reader will be left wanting to read more.

The overwhelming isolationist feeling in the USA prior to WW II is not that well known to the public. The history books talk about the Great Depression and jump to WW II. This is the story of what happened in the USA between those two great landmarks of American History.

Most Americans probably don't realize how angry the American public was with the British and French after WW I. Great numbers of people felt that the USA had been tricked into getting involved in that "War to End All Wars." Huge majorities of American voters were even angrier with France and Britain than they were with the defeated Germans. Most people on this side of the pond felt that WW II was the direct result of how poorly the victors had treated the Germans after the conflict ended. Their unfair treatment of the German people sowed the seeds of for another great conflict.

This book deals with the two most popular personalities in America at the time. FDR was at the height of his popularity as the pain of the Great Depression lessened and an unknown farm boy had become a worldwide hero because of his solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Charles Lindbergh's "Lone Eagle" adventure provided the world with a brief respite from the everyday problems left by the worldwide depression.

Lindbergh was a shy, private person who never quite adjusted to the fame that descended on the young man after his flight. But he became and remained the most famous adventurer on the planet.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating description of a crucial time March 5, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Those Angry Days covers the fight within the U.S., between 1939 and 1941, over whether to join the war against Germany. It is a fairly detailed history of a fascinating chapter in U.S. history.

The subtitle might lead you to believe that the book focuses mainly on President Roosevelt (FDR) and Lindbergh, but, in fact, the cast of characters is quite large. Olson does a good job bringing this large group to life and describes them with considerable empathy. She helps us to understand all the different reasons people wanted to stay out of the war in Europe:

o Most Americans felt protected by the sheer distance from Europe.
o Many felt that Britain had tricked them into the First World War and that that conflict had achieved nothing of value.
o Many Americans were utterly blind to the evil of Nazism or equated it with the evils of British imperialism. Indeed, many military leaders were resolute Anglophobes.
o Once Germany invaded the Soviet Union, many Americans saw little reason to favor Stalin over Hitler.
o Many Americans were sincere pacifists, opposed to war on principle.

America's transition from scrupulous neutral to formal belligerent took over two years, a span that must have felt eternal to the beleaguered British. Knowing that Roosevelt wanted to keep Britain from falling to the Germans and then watching as he, time after time, delays providing real assistance can be exasperating to the reader, as it must have been to Churchill and his countrymen.

Lindbergh, naturally, comes off looking bad. He had avoided public life so scrupulously beforehand, and for good reason: the press hounded him and his family mercilessly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 5 days ago by Vincent
3.0 out of 5 stars but more like a history book then Citizens of London
Interesting facts, but more like a history book then Citizens of London, which our book clubs, men and woman, really loved.
Published 8 days ago by mary
4.0 out of 5 stars Relevant to today's peoblems.
A fascinating book on prewar and early days of WWII. I remembered most of the characters and found them to be more complicated, and interesting, than my memories of them. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Lloyd Kaufman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
such interesting and most readable history
Published 17 days ago by carol bressler
5.0 out of 5 stars I strongly recommend it.
Well written and informative as to the political views in this country during that period..

It certainly outlined the personalities of the two most popular men of the... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Louis Pellegrino
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A view of pre WW2 Washington from a different angle.
Published 22 days ago by A. Thought
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully interesting and memory-refreshing account of those angst...
A wonderfully interesting and memory-refreshing account of those angst filled days leading up to our entry into WWII. Read more
Published 27 days ago by L. Howard Carl, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It simply was great
Published 1 month ago by William Gross
3.0 out of 5 stars thin
Insights into the logic/psychology of Lindbergh's thinking are really not delved into until quite late in book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by David P. Van Wagner
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful reminder
Most of us have forgotten how complex and flawed these characters were - not any more not after this book
Published 1 month ago by Joe Navarro
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More About the Author

Before Lynne Olson began writing books full time, she worked more than ten years as a journalist, including stints as Moscow correspondent for the Associated Press and White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. She has written six books of history, including the national bestseller "Citizens of London." Her latest book, "Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight for World War II," tells the story of the brutal, no-holds-barred debate that raged in America over what its role should be in the Second World War. Olson has won the Christopher Award and has been shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, Stan Cloud. Visit Lynne Olson at


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