Synopses & Reviews
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. Among the notable figures involved in the struggle were future U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford, Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver, and authors Gore Vidal and Kurt Vonnegut.
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.
“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. Compelling for students of history and casual readers alike.” Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State
“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, author of The Greatest Generation
“Deeply researched and scrupulously evenhanded, Lynne Olson’s groundbreaking history vividly captures a previously unexplored period of twentieth-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, 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
About the Author
Lynne Olson is the author of Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour; Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England; and Freedom’s Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970, and co-author of two other books. She lives with her husband in Washington, D.C.