Prelude to War
America’s entry into the Second World War has been told many times before, perhaps best in recent years by Michael Fullilove and Susan Dunn. Thus historian Marc Wortman faced a difficult task to add value. He partially succeeds and he does it with the writing style of a novelist making the book easy to read. Where he is most interesting is in presenting the very active American role in the famous sinking of the German battleship Bismarck and his very lengthy discussion of Phillip Johnson who would become a world famous architect, as a very active Nazi sympathizer who was almost indicted for treason. He also covers the role of the young Nelson Rockefeller as a state department official organizing our efforts to counter Nazi influence in Latin America.
He leaves out Dean Acheson’s role in coming up with the legal analysis that enabled FDR’s bases for destroyers deal and the role of American communists in their shifting from being pro-war to anti-war and back to pro-war as they cleaved to the party line coming out of Moscow.
As a result if a reader is not familiar with the history, Wortman’s book would be a good start in learning how Roosevelt with starts and stops moved the Nation to face the reality of the Nazi menace.
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