HITLER VERSUS ROOSEVELT: The Undeclared Naval War by Thomas A. & Paul B. Ryan Bailey


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A step-by-step account of U.S. naval activities in the Atlantic just prior to the declaration of war with a focus on the allegedly personalized feud between Roosevelt and Hitler. The beginnings of this supposed antagonism are traced back to the experiences of each in World War I (Hitler, conventionally, as a corporal in the German army and Roosevelt as Asst. Secretary of the Navy). Then, according to the authors, Hitler's mocking rejection of Roosevelt's appeals for an end to aggression in the Thirties and the latter's obvious favoritism toward the Allies aggravated the situation. In evidence of the personal nature of ""the undeclared naval war,"" Bailey and Ryan connect political moves and incidents at sea to the verbal attacks on one another by the two national leaders. For example, ""Roosevelt's decision. . . proposing lend-lease help on an enormous scale may have been provoked by a speech that Hitler delivered on December 10, 1940."" And elsewhere, the capture of the vessel City of Flint by the Germans and its subsequent return by the Soviets is cited ""as another chapter in the gradually crystallizing conflict between Roosevelt and Hitler."" Yet, for each of the incidents and their consequences there is a logical historical reason--Roosevelt's desire to keep the U.S. out of the shooting war by supplying the Allies with massive amounts of arms. The verbal exchanges between the two had more to do with rallying support than with conducting a ""bitter feud."" Whatever the authors may have to contribute to the annals of World War II is undercut by their simplistic thesis.

Pub Date: June 13th, 1979
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan