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

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

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 046501982X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

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leaders in the agrarian South and West. In 1932 he faced determined opposition from House Speaker John Nance Garner of Texas and from his former patron, Alfred E. Smith. After three inconclusive ballots in which Roosevelt secured a clear majority but lacked the necessary Introduction 9 two-thirds vote for nomination, Garner, prodded by William Randolph Hearst, switched to Roosevelt in return for the vice presidency, a decision Garner regretted for the rest of his life.6 Thus began the climax

major advocate of war. Born in 1871, Hull was the only senior member of the administration to leave behind a thorough autobiography, and his life encapsulated many critical elements of the experience of the Missionary generation.37 Hull grew up in the mountain country of northeast Tennessee, one of the border areas torn apart by the chaos of the Civil War. The era’s lawlessness touched his own family: His father survived a shot through the head 122 NO END SAVE VICTORY from a Yankee irregular

decided to make the preservation of democracy the essence of his platform—but the threat to democracy on which he focused was not the rise of totalitarianism overseas, but the possible election of Franklin Roosevelt to a third term at home. After delaying his acceptance of the Republican nomination until August 17, he told a huge crowd in his home town of Elwood, Indiana, “We are here today to represent a sacred cause—the preservation of American democracy. . . . Party lines are down. 125 126

FDR a victor with 350 electoral votes. The pro–New Deal Washington Merry- Go-Round made a similar prediction. Time magazine, which did not endorse a candidate but made its Willkie sympathies amply clear, expected a close result, and many Republicans speculated that Willkie might win the Electoral College but lose the popu lar vote thanks to Roosevelt’s large majorities in the solid South. The President himself, who could estimate with the best of them, sat down with pencil and paper during the

29 he announced plans to give China $100 million in economic and military aid.32 On December 10 the Joint Board took note that staff talks with the British had been approved at the highest level. The situation in the Atlantic, meanwhile, looked more and more critical. At a high-level meeting in Secretary Hull’s office on December 13, Stark told the State, War, and Navy leadership that the British would not be able to hold out for six more months if their shipping losses continued at the present

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