Reviews for Those Angry Days
by Lynne Olson
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
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.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Booklist
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It's hard to recall, but going to war used to take a long time. The protracted two-year battle over F.D.R.'s gradual, hard-fought, bitter, and often necessarily devious campaign to prepare the U.S. for war and overcome powerful isolationist sentiment is the subject of this snappy, comprehensive book. At its center are Charles Lindbergh, a tin-eared, pro-German, unappealing, obtuse naif, and F.D.R., wily but hemmed in by political forces. Olson, author of numerous books on the WWII era (including Citizens of London), manages to keep her complex, character-filled story on keel as she describes the forces bearing down on F.D.R.'s administration while the world slipped into war. Familiar and unfamiliar figures-military and civilian, private and public-people the book, and delicious tales abound. Overall, the story is sobering, and it's hard to understand now how the run-up to America's greatest war was so fraught with political and cultural explosives. Olson tells the story unerringly, but the book-however lively-is largely descriptive and short on ideas, argument, and point of view. Agent: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon Literary Agency. (Mar. 26) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Whether to intervene in World War II as Nazi Germany attacked England from the air is the focus of Olson's (Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest Hour) book about the robust struggle between America's isolationists and interventionists, with President Roosevelt (FDR), as portrayed here, caught in the middle. As assistant secretary of the navy during Woodrow Wilson's administration, FDR was well aware of Wilson's own fate with the League of Nations. Other accounts notwithstanding, e.g., Conrad Black's definitive Roosevelt, Olson portrays FDR as overly cautious and often lagging behind public opinion as it gradually came to support intervention against Germany. The bulk of the narrative here contrasts President Roosevelt and aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, the two most popular figures of the time. If the president was cautious, Lindbergh was indifferent to public opinion, caring more about aviation than politics. Olson focuses on Anne Morrow Lindbergh and her attempts to warn her husband about his ill-advised public statements against going to war. He disregarded her. VERDICT Though this subject is not new, Olson's focus on the Lindberghs and the pressure groups opposing and supporting the aviator offers additional insight into the period that ended with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Its readability further recommends the book to history buffs.-William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.