October 15th, 2011
In the last 36 hours, I've finished reading two books:
First, yesterday, was a library book called The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington, a book mostly about the attempts by the UK to get information and to supply propaganda to get the US to enter WWII on their side. I guess that you'd have to say that they failed, because it took a direct attack by the Japanese to get us into the war. I found a variety of interesting information in the book, but to me, it seemed to peter out, rather than come to a climax of some sort.
Second book was today, an ebook called Rum 1000 which I expected to be about the history of rum, but which turned out primarily to be a drink mix recipe book. Has its uses, but it wasn't what I was hoping for.
I read that book about Roald Dahl, too, and I thought the people in it were a lot more interesting than anything they actually accomplished.
I think that was the point, actually.
We've got a history of rum, I think! I believe I got it for mark a couple years ago. I'll ask him when I see him next.
I thought he was a whiskey man, not rum...
it took a direct attack by the Japanese to get us into the war
It's a bit more complicated than that. While the USA didn't declare war until Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt was already providing as much assistance as the Neutrality Act and public sentiment would allow. In particular, see Lend-Lease
, which was signed nine months before Pearl Harbor, and effectively donated huge quantities of materiel to Britain (et al).
Roosevelt also declared support for China; I'm not a historian, but my understanding is that this stance had a LOT to do with why Japan attacked PH in the first place.
Yes, I am aware of the history, and Roosevelt didn't really have the support of the average American with his policies. He could skirt the edge, but couldn't actually declare war, or else the sinking of the Reuben James would have set things in motion.
As to supporting China, that had been going on a long time, decades, and pre-dated Roosevelt, IIRC.
Gore Vidal's novel The Golden Age, chronologically the penultimate book in his Narratives of Empire series (which includes Burr, Lincoln, 1876, Empire, etc.), has a fair bit on various British agents peddling their propaganda in pre-Pearl Harbor Washington, attempting to bring the U.S. into the war on their side; I think there's at least a passing reference to one of the staunchest isolationists (and, per Vidal and his grandfather, Senator T.P. Gore of Oklahoma, a paid agent of the Nazis...), Senator William E. Borah, "The Lion of Idaho." But it's been awhile since I've read it, so I'm not absolutely sure; I could be conflating a couple of Vidal's essays with The Golden Age.
Vidal's position on U.S. involvement in WWII is ambivalent, to say the least: he's not an isolationist in the same way, say, Pat Buchanan is; on the other hand, he resents the Brits nudging us into the mess in the first place and thinks that the entire war was worthless, partly because the "Golden Age," as far as he's concerned, ended in 1950, if not in 1947 with the establishment of the CIA via the National Security Act.
That Vidal lost the love of his life, a Marine, in WWII has not a little to do with his sour views on the whole proceedings.
I've yet to read any Vidal.