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

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  658 ratings  ·  154 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 o
Paperback, 576 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2013)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”All that noise you death coming to London. You can hear the bombs falling on the streets and the homes. Don’t tune me out---this is a big story and you’re part of it…. The lights are all out everywhere, except in America. Keep those lights burning….Hang on to your lights, they’re the only lights left in the world.”
Foreign Correspondent Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

 photo foreigncorrespondent_zps78fe2ede.jpg
Joel McCrea and Laraine Day in Foreign Correspondent.

It was serendipitous that last week I happened to watch Foreign Corr
Lewis Weinstein
UPDATED 8/7/13

An absolutely fantastic read. Olson writes history with the pace and intensity of a novel. Characters (real characters) are exposed bit by bit through their actions to have their strengths (Wendell Willkie) and weaknesses (FDR and Lindbergh) picked open to view.

... I have always liked FDR but now like him much less.

... I have never liked Lindbergh and now dislike him much more.

... I never knew about Willkie and now think he was a real political hero, the likes of which we have rare
Cathy DuPont
You can always count on America to do the right thing---after they've tried everything else. Winston Churchill

Yes, yes, yes, I'm always proud of myself when I can pull myself away from James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, Ellroy, Block et al to read an "other" genre. And I'm always happier when I finish.

At 464 pages, I didn't consider this a long book but it certainly seemed long and I've found as I grow older, my attention span isn't what it used to be.

The book made me reminiscent of politics in
One of the most frustrating points that is made about our current social and political climate is that it's never been this bad. When we talk about our elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, we bemoan the state of our government, their lack of empathy and shared sacrifice, their detachment and utter inability to accomplish anything substantial or beneficial. We demand civility and compromise, we demand clear ideas, and above all else we demand "conversation" over arguments and deadl ...more
Liz Waters
I love Lynne Olson's work. Well-researched data presented in an engaging narrative style. i learn so many things from every one of her books I read that I cannot possibly count them here. I hate to see them come to an end, and often reread passages over time. For those of us who were brought up with a black and white view of history, it is fascinating to see the little gray shadows brought to light. Lynne Olson makes historical figures come to life as true human beings. She doesn't "expose", but ...more
Steven Z.
Recently I visited the World War II tunnels under the White Cliffs of Dover. As a retired historian this fostered further interest on my part in examining the events surrounding Dunkirk and the German aerial blitz over England in 1940. Coincidentally, Lynne Olson, the author of a number of books dealing with the United Kingdom and the war, published her most recent effort, THOSE ANGRY DAYS: ROOSEVELT, LINDBERGH AND THE FIGHT OVER WORLD WAR II, 1939-1941, a survey of American policy toward events ...more
"Never before since Jamestown or Plymouth Rock has our American civilization been in such danger as (it is) now...if the British were defeated the Axis powers would control...all of us, in all the Americas, would be living at the point of a gun - a gun loaded with explosive bullets, economic as well as military...the United States must become the great 'Arsenal of Democracy' supplying Britain as well as other nations fighting the enemy with everything they needed. We must apply ourselves to our ...more
Ronald Roseborough
This is an in depth look at the two sides of the issue over whether or not the United States should enter the conflict that would become World War II. Franklin D. Roosevelt and his supporters representing the interventionists and Charles Lindbergh, arguably the second most influential man at this time in the U. S., representing the isolationists. Lindbergh wanted nothing to do with the war. He proposed the U. S. should stay out of the war even if it meant all of Europe, including England, were t ...more
This exhaustively researched history is written in a compelling, somewhat novelistic style that made it impossible for me to put down. The novel begins and ends with Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and circles back around to them throughout. The author treats Mrs. Lindbergh very decently (as does Phillip Roth in “The Plot Against America”) and makes me want to know more about the lady. There are other players whom I knew little about. These include radio host Dorothy Thompson, the first Ameri ...more
Lynne Olson is going to be acknowledged as a great writer and historian after producing this book, and also Citizens of London and Troublesome Young Men. She makes history come alive and meaningful, clearly explaining complex issues, the motivations, the emotions, the players. Again I became aware of how much the so called obvious facts distilled with the passage of time appeared quite muddled in those days. America's entry into the second world war took a very sinuous road and the author sheds ...more
Ty Wilson
Fantastic book about a subject I thought I knew a little about, but now realize just how little I knew. The great debate in this country over what to do about the rise of Nazi Germany, as well as the growing menace from Japan, is extremely well-documented by Lynne Olson. She lays out the course of events in such a way that I found the book very hard to put down. My opinions of both Roosevelt and Lindbergh have been forever altered. If you are any sort of a fan of history and politics, this is th ...more
Those Angry Days is Lynne Olson's meticulous review of the tensions between East-coast elite interventionists characterized by the Century Group and the "America First" isolationist movement reluctantly led by Charles Lindbergh in the lead up to WWII. Her chronological review of this period digs deep, and in some cases a little too deep, as the narrative occasionally veers off-course into details that subtract from main theme. Ultimately, her even-handed factual representation of this tumultuous ...more
Joan Roe
All history is pointillism - there's the big picture seen with time & distance, and all the day-to-day events that are the dots that go into making the big picture. This is a lucid & compelling examination of the dots that made up the American political landscape of 1939-41, as world events cast an increasingly larger & darker shadow over it.
Annette Dolot
Fascinating.... Never read that much about this period in American History. You get a real sense of frustration, and fear about entering the war. Everything I had read previously never really gave you the sense of Britan's fear of being left out in the cold -all alone. Just a great book!!!!!!
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll read a book that makes you sit up straight, eyes open wide, and find you have to rethink information that you’ve known for decades. THOSE ANGRY DAYS is one of those books.
Born in 1940, I didn’t learn much about World War II in school; it was so recent that we never reached that period when we studied history. What I did know I picked up mostly from hearsay and, later on, from the print media and books about the Holocaust. I knew, for example, that Franklin D.
Most Americans who read Olson's amazing book will be stunned to see how acrimonious the debate of whether or not to help Europe (especially England) prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor was. The country was extremely divided between the interventionists, those who wanted to help, and the isolationists, those who wanted Europe to fend for itself. One of the most prominent isolationists was Charles Lindbergh, who is revealed as a naive, politically uneducated, and non-empathetic man who should have ...more
Those Angry Days is the history of the lead up to America’s entrance into WWII, the pro war forces led by Roosevelt (and surprisingly, Wendall Wilke) and the isolationist rallying round the young hero, Charles Lindbergh. The atmosphere in DC was not unlike today. A divided country where people generally felt strongly one-way or the other, and were adamantly opposed to either FDR or Lindy. It was a good book although, slow in parts. With the benefit of hindsight, it is difficult to be sympathetic ...more
This was a good audio book. It helped me to understand more about the period right before WWII regarding the country's debate over involvement in the European conflict.

I was aware that there was an influential faction advocating pacifism before the war, but little understanding of the depth of the debate and the players involved, including Lindbergh's role.

My conclusion after reading the book, is that the U.S. nearly blew it because of the protracted dithering. The debate was healthy and impor
Lynne Olson delivers a wonderful book on the history of how America entered World War II. This book offers a broad survey that covers a wide range of factors from Lindberg, to the British to Wendell Willkie on what allowed FDR to declare war on Nazi Germany and come to the aid of the British. The book looks through the lens of American popular opinion as the interventionists and isolationists battled back and forth. With Lindbergh and conservative republicans leading the isolationist charge to t ...more
Michael Griswold
Most of the books I've read on World War II generally focus on the combat battles that occurred throughout Europe and Asia. Those Angry Days by Lynne Olson is the first book I've ever seen that goes into comprehensive detail about the internal debate that occurred throughout the United States between 1939-1941.

While the central figures on the front cover are FDR and Charles Lindbergh, they are merely the key figures that represented two sides of the interventionist-isolationist debate as war rag
Ted Hunt
Most of the time I was reading this book, I was intending to give it the full five stars, as my only complaint was that I thought the subtitle did a disservice to the scope of the narrative. The book is a very illuminating examination of the intense (and often very nasty) debate about American participation in World War II, before the attack on Pearl Harbor made that debate largely irrelevant. But the book is about far more than Lindbergh and Roosevelt. If anything, the biggest hero is failed 19 ...more
I think that the common perception about America’s position regarding its participation in World War II prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor was strongly isolationist, which made it impossible for President Roosevelt to support the UK to the extent that he would have preferred. Lindbergh is identified as the face of this isolationist position, which seems to be understood as being the majority position until the surprise attack by Japan changed public opinion. This book shows that this understand ...more
This is an exceedingly well researched academic text covering isolationism versus interventionism in the two years prior to WWII. As with all academic style texts, you have to be in the mood to read it, and it can get boring at times because of the amount of detail. I thought this was an excellent book, and the author deserves credit for trying to clearly explain that it was not just one side versus another, there was actually a whole spectrum of opinions, from anti-Semetic Nazi lovers to Britis ...more
William Tam
Excellent narrative about how popular opinion and politcal realities kept the US out of WWII for so long. It really brought to life the concerns and attitudes of the time, and just what it took to prepare the US to enter the war. Thoroughly documented, but don't be scared of the footnotes, it is lively and focuses in a thoughtful and nuanced way on the very interesting and outsized personalities involved, especially the antogonists Lindbergh and FDR. In its own way I felt like there were things ...more
This might well be the best of the many books I have read that cover that period from 1939 to 1941 when America was riven by the debate about the war in Europe and our prospective role in it

From showing us the untenable dithering and finger in the wind politics of FDR to the all but treasonous activity of a great number of military leaders who were decidedly pro German no American figures from either the isolationist or interventionist sides comes out looking well

We see the almost incredible len
Judy Paskal
Such an interesting book. Lindbergh never admits the evil of the Nazis, even after the war when we learned of the historic proportions of that evil. Surprisingly, FDR comes off very timid and vacillating, hoping England can hold on with very little support from the United States. Even when 80% of Americans want to help England, he still does nothing, worried about the 20% who don't. I couldn't understand how 90% of Americans want universal background checks yet the bill fails in Congress, yet th ...more
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's rare for a work to concentrate on just a few years of any period, but these ones were vital to America, and I learned a lot about the forces and social situations driving both sides of the issue the book deals with. Two slights qualms: Roosevelt isn't given enough space and too often comes across as an indecisive and somewhat dithering person (and perhaps he was but his fear of getting ahead of the curve on the intervention issue can't all be ascribed to his se ...more
Lindbergh is merely the most prominent “character” in this history which includes deft, thorough portrayals of Wendell Willkie, the British ambassador Lord Lothian, Robert McCormick, the Anglophobic publisher of the Chicago Tribune, J. Edgar Hoover who, at Roosevelt’s orders, launched his phone-tapping career by targeting isolationists, and the sophisticated yet naïve, suffering yet oblivious Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Olson’s prodigious research is matched only by her intellectual curiosity. This i ...more
Many years after World War II, we sometimes take for granted the events that took place before America's entry into the Second World War. Charles Lindbergh shows up in our history books with his flight in the Spirit of St. Louis and may show up again briefly as an isolationist. We don't always stop to think how tough FDR had it in the 1940 election.

This book picks apart the time leading up to America's entry in that war, spending a lot of time with the Lindbergh family in the process. Other majo
This was a very good book. The parallels between the months leading up to Pearl Harbor and today's political environment are surprising, and prove that there's nothing new under the sun.

The title is slightly misleading. Although Roosevelt and Lindbergh are the two most notable characters, they aren't the only people involved in the Interventionist/Isolationist camps. Neither of them come across in a good light, either. Roosevelt is not a leader by any stretch of the imagination during this peri
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Before I began writing books full time, I worked for more than ten years as a journalist, including stints as Moscow correspondent for the Associated Press and White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. I've written six books of history, including the national bestseller "Citizens of London." My latest book, "Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight for World War II" (Mar ...more
More about Lynne Olson...
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 A Question of Honor: The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II Freedom's Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970 The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism

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