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Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Entry into World War II
     

Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Entry into World War II

by Waldo H. Heinrichs Jr.
 

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For Franklin D. Roosevelt, the spring of 1941 was a time of uncertainty and fear. Hitler's armies were poised to strike, but no one was sure where the next attack would come. The United States had begun its military build-up, but as yet the Army and Navy were ill-prepared for war with Germany and Japan. And though the American public was not ready to support an

Overview

For Franklin D. Roosevelt, the spring of 1941 was a time of uncertainty and fear. Hitler's armies were poised to strike, but no one was sure where the next attack would come. The United States had begun its military build-up, but as yet the Army and Navy were ill-prepared for war with Germany and Japan. And though the American public was not ready to support an unprovoked declaration of war, Churchill and members of Roosevelt's administration were urging him to intervene before it was too late.
___In Threshold of War, the first comprehensive treatment of the American entry into World War II to appear in over thirty-five years, eminent historian Waldo Heinrichs places American policy in a global context, covering both the European and Asian diplomatic and military scene, with Roosevelt ("the only figure with all the threads in his hands") at the center. In a tale of ever-broadening conflict, this vivid narrative weaves back and forth from the battlefields in the Soviet Union, to the intense policy debates within Roosevelt's administration, to the sinking of the battleship Bismarck, to the precarious and delicate negotiations with Japan. Of particular interest is Heinrichs' portrait of Roosevelt. Roosevelt has often been portrayed as vacillating, impulsive, and disorganized in his decision-making during this period. But here he emerges as a leader who acted with extreme caution and deliberation, who always kept his options open, and who, once Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union stalled in July, 1941, acted rapidly and with great determination, sending supplies to Stalin, placing an oil embargo on Japan, and ordering armed escorts of vital supplies to Europe.
___A masterful account of a key moment in American history, Threshold of War is both a distinguished work of scholarship and a moving narrative that captures the tension as Roosevelt, Churchill, Stimson, Hull, and numerous others struggled to shape American policy in the climactic nine months before Pearl Harbor.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this scholarly study, Heinrichs, professor of history at Temple University in Pennsylvania, places American foreign policy in its global context from March 1941, when Lend-Lease began, to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor nine months later. This was a period during which President Roosevelt sought and found ways to adjust U.S. policy to the growing threat of German and Japanese military expansion while, at the same time, overseeing the buildup of the ``arsenal for democracy.'' That arsenal was still very slender, and part of FDR's complex task was to decide how much of it went to the beleaguered British and Russians in Lend-Lease and how much was retained by the increasingly insistent U.S. armed forces. The author traces the dynamics of the prolonged and deliberately dilatory negotiations with Japan (The Hull-Nomura talks) while FDR directed the application of maximum economic pressure against the burgeoning Empire. The book is a solidly researched counterweight to revisionist studies suggesting that Roosevelt's foreign policy was characterized by indecisiveness. Uncertain of German and Japanese intentions, the president was nevertheless ``an active and purposeful maker of foreign policy'' during the period in question. (September)
Library Journal
In this well-written and -researched history of the U.S. entry into World War II, Heinrichs correctly argues that the proliferation of sources in recent years has encouraged excessive focusing on regions or themes. Yet by 1941 the United States was moving toward an integrated global conflict, as Roosevelt realized that the government could no longer take actions anywhere without considering their worldwide implications. In that climate, the diplomacy of deterrence had at best limited prospects, particularly considering German confidence and Japanese defiance. A worthy successor to William Langer's and L. Everett Gleason's classic, Challenge to Isolation : 1937-1940 (1952). Dennis E. Showalter, Colorado Coll., Colorado Springs

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195044249
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
09/01/1988
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.14(d)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
Waldo Heinrichs is Professor of History at Temple University. He is the author of American Ambassador: Joseph C. Grew and the Development of the U.S. Diplomatic Tradition, which won the Allan Nevins Prize of the Society of American Historians, and is on the Board of Editors of Diplomatic History.

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