No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War

No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War

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by David Kaiser

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While Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first hundred days may be the most celebrated period of his presidency, the months before the attack on Pearl Harbor proved the most critical. Beginning as early as 1939 when Germany first attacked Poland, Roosevelt skillfully navigated a host of challenges—a reluctant population, an unprepared military, and


While Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first hundred days may be the most celebrated period of his presidency, the months before the attack on Pearl Harbor proved the most critical. Beginning as early as 1939 when Germany first attacked Poland, Roosevelt skillfully navigated a host of challenges—a reluctant population, an unprepared military, and disagreements within his cabinet—to prepare the country for its inevitable confrontation with the Axis.

In No End Save Victory, esteemed historian David Kaiser draws on extensive archival research to reveal the careful preparations that enabled the United States to win World War II. Alarmed by Germany and Japan’s aggressive militarism, Roosevelt understood that the United States would almost certainly be drawn into the conflict raging in Europe and Asia. However, the American populace, still traumatized by memories of the First World War, was reluctant to intervene in European and Asian affairs. Even more serious was the deplorable state of the American military. In September of 1940, Roosevelt’s military advisors told him that the US would not have the arms, ammunition, or men necessary to undertake any major military operation overseas—let alone win such a fight—until April of 1942. Aided by his closest military and civilian collaborators, Roosevelt pushed a series of military expansions through Congress that nearly doubled the size of the US Navy and Army, and increased production of the arms, tanks, bombers, and warships that would allow America to prevail in the coming fight.

Highlighting Roosevelt’s deft management of the strong personalities within his cabinet and his able navigation of the shifting tides of war, No End Save Victory is the definitive account of America’s preparations for and entry into World War II. As Kaiser shows, it was Roosevelt’s masterful leadership and prescience that prepared the reluctant nation to fight—and gave it the tools to win.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Michael Beschloss
…[a] judicious, detailed and soundly researched history of Roosevelt's tortuous process of first preparing America psychologically, politically and militarily, and then nudging the country into that apocalyptic struggle. This story has, of course, been told many times before, but what Kaiser especially brings to the table is his mastery not only of the documents and other primary sources that directly reveal Roosevelt's behind-the-scenes leadership but also of other archives that are sometimes too little mined by political historians, like Army and Navy war plans…Kaiser has brought us a careful, nuanced, credible account of the events and complex issues surrounding America's entry into World War II, which, however historical fashions change, is likely to wear well over the years.
From the Publisher

“Kaiser’s research is both comprehensive and illuminating....An admiring, richly textured portrait of a leader confronting the unthinkable.”

Williamson Murray, author of A War To Be Won: Fighting the Second World War
"David Kaiser has written an outstanding book on Franklin Roosevelt's strategic course in the dark days, from the late 1930s to America's entrance into the Second World War. Among its many strong points is a revealing and persuasive reconsideration of Roosevelt's strategic thinking during this period. Above all Kaiser's portrait underlines that without the president's wisdom and political sagacity, the Germans might well have won the war. This is a book that anyone with an interest in that terrible conflict must read."

Jeremi Suri, author of Liberty's Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama
“Franklin Roosevelt remains the most important and puzzling American war leader of the last century. David Kaiser's fascinating book offers powerful and relevant insights into how Roosevelt transformed an isolationist country with an ill-prepared military into a united and formidable fighting force. Kaiser shows how Roosevelt anticipated dangerous developments, how he invented new procedures for war preparations, and how he persuaded a skeptical public to fight an extended war. Roosevelt displayed a mix of strategic foresight, political acumen, and public charisma that our country has not seen again. Kaiser's book is vitally important because it demystifies Roosevelt, making him a realistic model for our own times.”

Douglas Porch, Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and author of The Path to Victory: The Mediterranean Theater in WWII
"David Kaiser combines meticulous research with a fluent and compelling chronicle of FDR's crucial impact on U.S. preparedness on the eve of World War II.”

Jeremy Black, Professor of History at the University of Exeter
“An effective and important account of a key episode in American and world history. Noted historian David Kaiser skilfully links domestic and international developments to tell a fascinating story.”

Library Journal
While the literature on Franklin D. Roosevelt's (FDR) presidency is vast, there's less written on how he interacted with and led the military. Kaiser (The Road to Dallas) here covers that topic in detail from the fall of France in 1940 to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, showing a president clearly in charge of the armed forces and often more prescient about the world than were his soldiers. Kaiser shows FDR's leadership style, which kept the military on its toes, willing to challenge and override its often faulty recommendations. This work is a good antidote to the claims of conspiracy theorists who assert that FDR maneuvered the Japanese into bombing Pearl Harbor. The author tacks on a thesis based on William Strauss and Neil Howe's Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069, suggesting that FDR and his team were part of the "missionary generation," contributing to their success in dealing with Japan and Nazi Germany. It's a thought-provoking notion, but Kaiser's evidence is far from persuasive. VERDICT This book is unnecessary for scholars, but insufficiently compelling for general readers as the writing is wordy and dry. The latter would be better served by Nigel Hamilton's lively The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941–1942.—William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
Kirkus Reviews
In the years leading up to World War II, America was fortunate to have Franklin Roosevelt as president, a prescient leader who anticipated our inevitable entry into the global conflict most Americans wanted to avoid. The subtitle is a bit misleading, implying that FDR either wanted war or stumbled into it. Neither fits Kaiser's (The Road to Dallas: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, 2008, etc.) argument here. The author emerges as an unabashed fan of FDR in this detailed description and analysis of U.S. foreign policy from May 1940 to Pearl Harbor. Repeatedly, he pauses to praise the president. He also continually employs the concept of "Prophet generations" from the work of William Strauss and Neil Howe and places FDR (and some of his team) as an active member of the "Missionary generation" that valued order over chaos, the "scientific spirit" and "a more decent life for all." The academic tone is also evident in the author's fondness for categories and lists—and in its pervasive unsmiling prose. However, Kaiser's research is both comprehensive and illuminating. With aplomb, he leaps from Japan to Germany to Washington, D.C.; he analyzes the speeches delivered by FDR and others; and he sketches the backgrounds of many of the principal players, including Frank Knox, Henry M. Stimson and Harry Hopkins. The author shows how FDR led the military-industrial buildup (ships, weapons, atomic power), how he dealt with race in the military, how he battled the isolationists (led by Charles Lindbergh) and how he dealt with the British, who were desperate for help. The author pauses to relate some of FDR's personal life—his relationships with his wife and other women—but mostly keeps the focus on the preparation for war. An admiring, richly textured portrait of a leader confronting the unthinkable.

Product Details

Basic Books
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6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

David Kaiser has taught history at Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, the Naval War College, and Williams College. The author of seven books, including The Road to Dallas: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Kaiser lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.

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No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation Into War 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Ikefan More than 1 year ago
Interesting, in the political nuances of FDR knowing war was coming, but having to deal with isolationist sentiment and those who wanted us in the war. The book shows both the political and the realist side of FDR. FASCINATING
jfk1942 More than 1 year ago
David Kaiser's book is an easy read that tells the story how FDR led us into WW11. It is very interesting and covers both the good and the bad.
In-Quest More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the narrative the author uses to explain how FDR saw that America needed to come out of it's isolationistic frame of mind to do it's part in protecting not only our democracy but democracy for the people of the whole world. Not sure I agreed with all he said in his epilogue. It had to do with generalizations on a so called Missionary Generation and other names for other generations. But the main part of the book was a good telling of factual history of that part of American history.