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FDR, his vision and will at war.,
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This review is from: No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War (Hardcover)
No End Save Victory by David Kaiser is a credible and thorough history of Roosevelt (FDR), the consumate politician, practicing the art of the possible in preparing the US for a war it did not want to fight. The premise is FDR's prescience, his certainty that the US would be dragged into a global conflict against facism, was the thread which ran through our dilatory preparation for war.
The premise requires FDR as the primary agent who through the force of his will persevered from long before even the German invasion of Poland until finally the Japanese attacked the US at Pearl Harbor. It was his single-minded purpose to engage the popular will behind government mobilization to fight a global war involving maximum utilization of national manpower and resources.
Roosevelt early on understood that democracy as a way of life and as a core set of values was under attack by the facists. He also understood involvement by the US could not be limited to defense of our shores or even the Western Hemisphere but would mean fighting the Germans on the European mainland and defeating the Japanese in the Pacific. Kaiser's story does a good job in supporting or perhaps proving this premise.
It also tells about FDR's indirect methods of managing people. He had to restrain those who wanted to drag the US into the war until the time was right. But he had to restrain them while enlisting their passion and experience in mobilizing for war. At the same time he had to win over the isolationists. He could only do this by letting the flow of events outside our hemisphere erode isolationist resistance. This was a Herculean feat and the fact that FDR was successful validates the premise even more.
FDR understood that the core of mobilization is national will. National will was mobilized late but first there had to be a lot of preparation before we could wage war. He used the same New Deal devices he had previously used to combat the Depression to get the country ready for war in advance of the willingness to fight the war.
I had thought the US was more unprepared for participation than it really was. This book taught me about our preparation. I also thought we were more surprised than we actually were by the Japansese attack. We just didn't know how and where the blows would fall.
The book is a chronologic account of the events involving primarily FDR and the executive branch in the years before Pearl Harbor. The events speak for themselves. The book is well-referenced.
The only criticism I have is the use of a device about the "Prophetic" generations and particularly the "Missionary" generation" concept Kaiser borrowed. I thought this device was not necessary and did not stand as a reason to explain how well FDR and his generation coped with the crisis thrust on them. I am willing to let the deeds speak for themselves.
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Initial post: Jun 27, 2014 8:27:07 AM PDT
I am with you on the Missionary thing. I never heard of that before and it just didn't add much to the process, but a very good book indeed.
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