Those Angry Days
Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941
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“With this stirring book, Lynne Olson confirms her status as our era’s foremost chronicler of World War II politics and diplomacy. Those Angry Days tells the extraordinary tale of America’s internal debate about whether and how to stop Hitler. Filled with fascinating anecdotes and surprising twists, the text raises moral and practical questions that we still struggle with today.”
–Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
A groundbreaking account of the debate over American intervention in World War II, Those Angry Days tells the story of the bitter, sometimes violent clash of personalities and ideas that divided the nation and ultimately determined the fate of the free world. At the center 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.
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. While other historians have limited their focus to the policy issues of the pre-Pearl Harbor period, Lynne Olson tells the human stories as well — especially that of Charles Lindbergh, his troubled wife Anne, and their family. She masterfully evokes the nail-biting suspense over whether Britain would be saved, as well as the extreme polarization in the country (not unlike that of today) that ripped apart friendships and tore apart families.
The stakes in this battle could not have been higher. The combatants were larger than life. With the immediacy and verve of a great novel, Those Angry Days recalls a time fraught with danger when the future of democracy and America’s role in the world hung in the balance.
“A fully fleshed-out portrait of the battle between the interventionists and isolationists in the 18 months leading up to Pearl Harbor…The author clarifies “those angry days,” so-called by Arthur Schlesinger, and the deep, searing divisions within the country: from FDR, his hands tied to aid Britain materially by Senate Midwestern leaders like Burton Wheeler and Gerald Nye, who deeply resented the growing power of the presidency; to pro-German, frankly racist Lindbergh, whose trips to Germany and radio broadcasts helped sharpen the public outcry, gave fodder to prescient journalists like Dorothy Thompson and alienated his own long-suffering wife, Anne Morrow….Throughout, Olson adroitly sifts through the many conflicting currents. A vivid, colorful evocation of a charged era.”
–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Lynne Olson has done it again. Those Angry Days is a riveting account of the political tensions and cast of historic figures engaged in an epic battle over the role of the United States in the early years of World War II. It’s all here: FDR, Lindbergh, Churchill, Hitler, war in Europe and the Pacific. The stakes could not have been higher and the outcome was never certain. Modern leaders and citizens alike can learn so much from Those Angry Days.”
–Tom Brokaw, former NBC News anchor and author of The Greatest Generation
“Deeply researched and scrupulously even-handed, Lynne Olson’s groundbreaking history vividly captures a previously unexplored period of 20th century America. At its heart, Those Angry Days is a gripping tale of the brutal battle between two larger-than-life antagonists, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Charles Lindbergh, but Olson’s compelling cast of characters includes numerous unsung heroes such as Britain’s Lord Lothian and defeated Republican presidential candidate Wendell Willkie. With fresh insights and riveting new details, Olson examines the shifting alliances and intrigues, the passions that divided families, and the compromises and campaigns that galvanized America to give vital assistance to Britain when it was threatened with massive defeat by Nazi Germany.”
–Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen
“An exhilarating portrait of America’s growing pains in the years leading to World War II, Those Angry Days makes a fine matching bookend to Olson’s Citizens of London….It shows a great democracy rallying to a great debate, one truly worthy of the stakes.”
–Chris Matthews, anchor of MSNBC’s Hardball
“I have been hugely impressed by Lynne Olson’s last two books, both of which were concerned more with Britain than America. With Those Angry Days she is back on home ground, and has once again held me spellbound with her account of the terrifying days when the future of the free world depended on the USA. She is incapable of writing a boring sentence; I would follow her anywhere.”
–John Julius Norwich, author of Absolute Monarchs
Published by Random House
hardcover / 496 pages