America's struggle against Nazism is one of the few aspects of World War II that has escaped controversy. Historians agree that it was a widely popular war, different from the subsequent conflicts in Korea and Vietnam because of the absence of partisan sniping, ebbing morale, or calls for a negotiated peace.
In this provocative book, Steven Casey challenges conventional wisdom about America's participation in World War II. Drawing on the numerous opinion polls and surveys conducted by the U.S. government, he traces the development of elite and mass attitudes toward Germany, from the early days of the war up to its conclusion. Casey persuasively argues that the president and the public rarely saw eye to eye on the nature of the enemy, the threat it posed, or the best methods for countering it. He describes the extensive propaganda campaign that Roosevelt designed to build support for the war effort, and shows that Roosevelt had to take public opinion into account when formulating a host of policies, from the Allied bombing campaign to the Morgenthau plan to pastoralize the Third Reich.
By examining the previously unrecognized relationship between public opinion and policy making during World War II, Casey's groundbreaking book sheds new light on a crucial era in American history.
America's view of Germany over the last 50 years has been affected by the outcome of the war and the horror of the concentration camps. Casey, a junior research fellow in politics at Trinity College, Oxford, asserts that the war with Germany was never overly popular with the American people and that during the prewar years of 1938-40, public opinion was very isolationist or almost pro-German. Numerous public figures during this time (including Father Coughlin and Charles Lindbergh) spoke in favor of Germany. President Roosevelt had to deal with public opinion and walk the "tightrope" of too much or too little involvement. Even after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the public was more inclined to support the war against Japan than the war against Germany. Roosevelt had to stay in touch with public opinion polls regarding the conduct of the war and, later, the question of the reorganization of the postwar world. Casey documents his position with numerous footnotes and an extensive bibliography. While numerous books have dealt with the propaganda issues of World War II, this enjoyable work is the first one to deal with public opinion polls and their influence on American foreign policy during the war. Recommended for both public and academic libraries. Mark Ellis, Albany State Univ., GA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.