Philip Roth’s 2004 novel, “The Plot Against America,’’ imagined a world in which the famed aviator Charles Lindbergh was elected president in 1940. Roth’s inspiration for the novel, he said, was the autobiography of Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who noted that some Republicans wanted Lindbergh to run against President Roosevelt. As it turns out, that same autobiography provided the title and spirit of Lynne Olson’s new book, which is also about Lindbergh and the 1940 election.
“Those Angry Days,’’ however, is a factual account of America’s years immediately preceding World War II. No fictional characters are included, and none are needed. Schlesinger was a man who saw the violent political debates surrounding McCarthyism and the Vietnam War, but he called the quarrels from 1939 to 1941 the worst he ever saw.