As the first comprehensive treatment of the American entry into World War II to appear in over thirty-five years, Waldo Heinrichs' volume places American policy in a global context, covering both the European and Asian diplomatic and military scenes, with Roosevelt at the center.
Telling 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. Refuting the popular portrayal of Roosevelt as a vacillating, impulsive man who displayed no organizational skills in his decision-making during this period, Heinrichs presents him 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. This masterful account of a key moment in American history captures the tension faced by Roosevelt, Churchill, Stimson, Hull, and numerous others as they struggled to shape American policy in the climactic nine months before Pearl Harbor.
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.