Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II by Lynne Olson
In Those Angry Days, Lynne Olson returns to the pre-WWII period of her earlier non-fiction book Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England. Only this time she moves the story to our side of the Atlantic.
The subtitle is slightly misleading as this is not a dual biography of Roosevelt and Lindbergh, but rather a chronicle of the heated debate between the interventionists (Roosevelt) and the isolationists (Lindbergh) factions in the years leading up to the war.
It was a “dirty fight,” and Olson introduces an intriguing cast of characters including high ranking military officers, elected officials, diplomats, celebrity authors, financiers, journalists, socialites, and ordinary citizens. Both sides engaged in all kinds of skullduggery in the name of their cause.
And the two titular leaders of each faction are not immune to questionable behavior. Roosevelt, even as he overstepped his authority, often demonstrated an unbecoming indecisiveness. Lindbergh silent, stubborn, and secretive was his own worst enemy. (In a revelation that speaks to Lindbergh’s secretiveness, thirty years after his death it was discovered that between 1957 and 1967 Lindbergh fathered seven illegitimate children with three different German women. This information was news to all of his offspring, German and American.)
In most histories of the pre-war years, America marches smoothly from Lend-Lease to a declaration of war, as if our entrance into the war was a foregone conclusion. Lynne Olson reminds us that it wasn’t. Even knowing the outcome, Those Angry Days is suspenseful reading.