Defenseless Under the Night: The Roosevelt Years and the Origins of Homeland Security

ISBN : 9780197503997

Matthew Dallek
360 ページ
156 x 234 mm

In his 1933 inaugural address, Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Yet even before Pearl Harbor, Americans feared foreign invasions, air attacks, biological weapons, and, conversely, the prospect of a dictatorship being established in the United States. To protect Americans from foreign and domestic threats, Roosevelt warned Americans that "the world has grown so small" and eventually established the precursor to the Department of Homeland Security - an Office of Civilian Defense (OCD). At its head, Roosevelt appointed New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia; First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt became assistant director. Yet within a year, amid competing visions and clashing ideologies of wartime liberalism, a frustrated FDR pressured both to resign.

In Defenseless Under the Night, Matthew Dallek reveals the dramatic history behind America's first federal office of homeland security, tracing the debate about the origins of national vulnerability to the rise of fascist threats during the Roosevelt years. While La Guardia focused on preparing the country against foreign attack and militarizing the civilian population, Eleanor Roosevelt insisted that the OCD should primarily focus on establishing a wartime New Deal, what she and her allies called "social defense." Unable to reconcile their visions, both were forced to leave the OCD in 1942. Their replacement, James Landis, would go on to recruit over ten million volunteers to participate in civilian defense, ultimately creating the largest volunteer program in World War II America.

Through the history of the OCD, Dallek examines constitutional questions about civil liberties, the role and power of government propaganda, the depth of militarization of civilian life, the quest for a wartime New Deal, and competing liberal visions for American national defense - questions that are still relevant today. The result is a gripping account of the origins of national security, which will interest anyone with a passion for modern American political history and the history of homeland defense.


Introduction: Guns and Butter

Chapter One: Ultimate Armageddon

Chapter Two: No Pact, Treaty, Symbol, or Person

Chapter Three: Two Fronts

Chapter Four: The Problem of Home Defense

Chapter Five: An American Plan

Chapter Six: London Burning

Chapter Seven: A Sweeping Conflagration of Insanity

Chapter Eight: Heart and Soul

Chapter Nine: We Can't All Run to Central Pk

Chapter Ten: A Man Must Be Protected

Chapter Eleven: Fair Game

Chapter Twelve: The Liberal Approach

Chapter Thirteen: All These Rights Spell Security'

Conclusion: National Security Liberalism





Matthew Dallek is Professor of Political Management at George Washington University. He is also the author of The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan's First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics.