Heard of Band of Brothers? You’ve heard of the late Stephen Ambrose. Unfortunately plagued by accusations of plagiarism later in life, a scholar of Eisenhower and Lewis and Clark he was best known , like AJP Taylor, as a sort of popularizer of history. I think that comes through in these 14 easy to read pages. His colleague, a scholar of FDR and Cold War history also taught a very popular class, “The Majic Bus” wherein he traveled across the country with his students listening to period music and visiting historical sights. Aaaah college. You’ll get there.
My point though is that these two men want you to like history. The Kissinger and Pipes books, and Spence to come, are serious scholarly pieces dedicated to nuanced detail, analysis and argument. This little book is not exactly a “survey” (that’s your text book from last year, a “survey” of the current literature on history) it is based on their own research, but obviously its a different animal than “Diplomacy”.
So what does it say? To my eye it says that not until his election of 1940 did FDR show any sympathy at all to the Brits and not until November 1941, less than a month from Pearl Harbor, was his tone one of “unrestrained belligerence, in public and private”. Kissinger wants to say he had interventionist tendencies as early as October 1937 with the Quarantine speech. Which one is right? Who do you believe? Why?