Five Days in Philadelphia: Wendell Willkie, Franklin Roosevelt and the 1940 Election That Saved the Western World

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There were four strong contenders when the Republican party met in June of 1940 in Philadelphia to nominate its candidate for president: the crusading young attorney and rising Republican star Tom Dewey, solid members of the Republican establishment Robert Taft and Arthur Vandenberg, and dark horse Wendell Willkie, utilities executive, favorite of the literati and only very recently even a Republican. The leading Republican candidates campaigned as isolationists. The charismatic Willkie, newcomer and upstager, ...

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2005 Hardcover First Edition; First Printing New in New dust jacket 1586481126. Book and DJ are New, first edition, first printing, Collectors Quality, S-2, ; 9.20 X 6.50 X 1.10 ... inches; 288 pages. Read more Show Less

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Overview

There were four strong contenders when the Republican party met in June of 1940 in Philadelphia to nominate its candidate for president: the crusading young attorney and rising Republican star Tom Dewey, solid members of the Republican establishment Robert Taft and Arthur Vandenberg, and dark horse Wendell Willkie, utilities executive, favorite of the literati and only very recently even a Republican. The leading Republican candidates campaigned as isolationists. The charismatic Willkie, newcomer and upstager, was a liberal interventionist, just as anti-Hitler as FDR. After five days of floor rallies, telegrams from across the country, multiple ballots, rousing speeches, backroom deals, terrifying international news, and, most of all, the relentless chanting of "We Want Willkie" from the gallery, Willkie walked away with the nomination.

The story of how this happened — and of how essential his nomination would prove in allowing FDR to save Britain and prepare this country for entry into World War II — is all told in Charles Peters' Five Days in Philadelphia. As Peters shows, these five action-packed days and their improbable outcome were as important as the Battle of Britain in defeating the Nazis.

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Editorial Reviews

Thomas Mallon
Peters understands that Willkie's nomination took place at a historical moment when ''the good side of the American character was in ascendancy.'' Philip Roth's unwillingness to grasp that truth is what made The Plot Against America, however fluent a tour de force, an imaginative failure. Five Days in Philadelphia, small and kindhearted and occasionally awkward, is the bigger book of the two.
— The New York Times
Eric Fetterman New York Post 8/14/05
"...this is one of the most intriguing political stories in... American history and Peters has told it in entertaining fashion,"
The New York Observer
"The prose in Mr. Peters' history lesson is efficient..., affable and sermon-free... he knows how to tell a story."
Dennis Lythgoe The Deseret News 8/14/05
"...this anecdotal book does a service in giving Willkie back his lost and much deserved political stature."
Dallas Morning News 8/21/05
"A refreshing look at when politics was still a spectator sport and conventions were its World Series."
Library Journal
If the 1940 presidential election is remembered at all, it is usually for FDR's shattering of the two-term tradition. Peters (founding editor, Washington Julyly; How Washington Really Works) makes a case that it should also be remembered for the Republican presidential candidate, Wendell Willkie. The leading contender at the Republican convention that year was Robert A. Taft, son of former President William Howard Taft; other contenders were Thomas Dewey, Arthur Vandenberg, and Herbert Hoover, all conservative isolationists. FDR had thought of retirement until April 1940 but failed to designate a successor, finally insisting that he wanted to be drafted for a third term at the Democratic convention in Chicago, with Henry Wallace as his running mate. To the consternation of many there, he got what he wanted. In Philadelphia, Willkie owed his fifth-ballot success largely to media moguls like Henry Luce, a fellow internationalist. Peters makes a strong case that Willkie's internationalism made FDR's preparation for and involvement in World War II much more readily acceptable to the country as a whole. FDR enthusiasts and buffs of political history and reminiscences will thoroughly enjoy this lively account. Highly recommended.-William D. Pederson, Louisiana Univ., Shreveport Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586481124
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 7/4/2005
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.62 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Peters managed John F. Kennedy's 1960 primary in West Virginia's largest county, then moved to Washington D.C. to help launch the Peace Corps and to found the Washington Monthly, which he edited for thirty-one years. He won the Columbia Journalism Award and the first Richard M. Clurman award for mentoring young journalists, such as James Fallows, Nicholas Lemann, Michael Kinsley, and Pulitzer Prize winners Katharine Boo and Taylor Branch. His previous books include How Washington Really Works, which the New York Times called, "wise, funny."

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2006

    'Here lies one who contributed to saving freedom at a moment of great peril...'

    These were the words that Wendell Willkie, the 1940 GOP presidential nominee said that he would prefer as his choice of epitaphs, rejecting the second option, 'Here lies an unimportant president.' This may be the best book that I've read in years. Peters is a journalist, but he also lived through the era and experienced the race first hand. There are so many interesting facts in this book, not just about the presidential race, but about political and social life in the United States prior to America's entry into WWII. The book traces the development of American policy towards the British, with a special emphasis on Lend-Lease and the political battle against the isolationists. The heroes of the book are both Willkie and FDR, who both ran in 1940 as internationalists in a time of pending crisis. Anyone who has a passion for history and loves the World War II era will benefit from purchasing Peters' book.

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