In Europe it was total war. In the U. S. it was shock—the grim event had finally arrived. For Franklin Roosevelt, who had the benefit of forewarning from the U. S. diplomatic corps—he returned to Washington three days before the Nazi thrust—the shock was measurably cushioned. He had an opportunity before most other men to consider in the cold light of reason an even more momentous event: a change in the visible shape of things to come.

What Franklin Roosevelt saw or thought he saw—as he faced perhaps the gravest responsibility which any...

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