An acclaimed historian reveals how Roosevelt and his cabinet engineered America's entry intoand ultimate victory inWorld War II.
“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."
Michael Beschloss, New York Times Book Review
“[A] judicious, detailed and soundly researched history.... 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.”
Wall Street Journal
“Mr. Kaiser…offers a tightly focused examination of Roosevelt's foreign policy from the defeat of France in May 1940 to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.... Most will value Mr. Kaiser's clearly written narrative, which focuses on the improvisational planning of the president and the men around him.”
“Others have written about this period, but few with his precision and insight.... His thoroughly researched and well-informed narrative of what happened on the road to war makes the book fully worth the cover price.”
Battles and Book Reviews
“An interesting and compelling account of the events in America during the 18 months prior to American entry into WWII.... I highly recommend this book to anybody interested in World War II, but especially to people who think they are familiar with America's role in that war. An outstanding book.”
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
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.
- Basic Books
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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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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
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.
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.