In 1943, WHEN SHE WAS 37, Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote: "I realize . . . that I have had three big things to fight against in my life. The first was just sorrow [the kidnapping case], the second was fear (the flights), and the third is bitterness (this whole war struggle). And the third is the hardest." Charles Lindbergh's campaign to keep this country out of World War II toppled him as a public hero. He was villified as an isolationist before Pearl Harbor and was ostracized in the early wartime years. Anne Lindbergh's own struggle to analyze, understand and come to terms with their life as outcasts provides the central drama of War Within and Without, her letters and diaries from 1939 to 1944.
She wrote this private, often painful, journal to leave a record of those stormy pre-war years when Americans were bitterly divided into interventionists and isolationists, an era obliterated on December 7, 1941 and now all but lost to history. She also kept a diary from the simple need "to clear one's mind, to disspate one's fears, to face one's doubts, to look at one's mistakes . . . Like prayer, you go to it in sorrow more than joy."
There is more sorrow here than joy, although Anne Lindbergh learned to catch happiness "on the wing" -- walking with her husband on the beach and skating with her children on the pond -- in the midst of criticism and public censure.
As the most famous pre-war isolationist (and most unforgettable -- who today remembers that Kingman Brewster, John Foster Dulles and Alice Longworth also held those views?), Lindbergh drew the deadliest fire. Dorothy Thompson said he was "pro-Nazi"; Robert Sherwood called him a traitor with a "poisioned mind"; FDR labelled him a "Copperhead." Being singled out for such attack was a distinction Charles Lindbergh seemed rather to enjoy. He was, after all, following in his father's footsteps. (Charles Lingbergh Sr., the Minnesota congressman, had been hanged in effigy for opposing America's entry into World War I). The "we few" feeling Lindbergh found exhilerating. And, anyway, he loved a fight. Not surprisingly, his wife did not. Anne Lindbergh was the one who suffered. Her husband's extreme and controversial views, only some of which she shared, divided her from her family and old friends -- the well-heeled, high-minded eastern establishment she belonged to. She felt "very much" alone and separated from all those good people." (America First rallies, she noticed, were not held in the "best hall," nor done in the "best taste," nor attended by the "best people.)
Old friends like Harold Nicolson and Carl Sandburg publicly attacked them. Another telegraphed: "You have let America down." Strangers threatened retribution on the Lindbergh family and new disasters to their children. Sometimes their unpopularity was carried to ridiculous extremes: Mrs. Archibald Roosevelt disinvited them to dinner when the other guests objected.
When against his wife's advice, Lindbergh named the Jews, along with the administration and the British, as "the three most important groups . . . pressing this country toward war," he was hit with the charge of anti-Semitism which Anne Lindbergh found "very terrible." Nonetheless, she believed deeply in his "goodness of spirit" and stood gamely at his side.
Being shunned by other artists was the crulest blow. She blamed politics for cutting off her cherished friendship with Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the French aviator and writer who "spoke 'my language' better than anyone I have ever met before or since." They saw each other only once, in the summer of 1939, but theirs was a meeting of minds so instantaneous and total that "I hardly know looking back," she wrote, "which are his ideas and which are mine."
Anne Lindbergh writes, in this fifth and final volume of her private papers, with the sensitivity of mind and pen that have always marked her work. On almost every page there is an idea to remember or a description to applaud. But she writes now with surprising candor for a writer of such pronounced discretion and reserve, giving unexpected glimpses of her private life, her marriage and the real Charles Lindbergh.
Who would have guessed he was a dedicated feminist -- the most vehement supporter of his wife's career? He pressed her, almost fiercely, to write and was angry when household chores or children intervened. "Almost all our quarrels," she wrote in 1941, "arise from this passionate desire to see me freed to fulfill what there is in me." To make sure she had a quiet place to work, he pitched a tent above the beach at Martha's Vineyard, set up a trailer behind their house outside Detroit.
There are many revelations here that make the austere Charles Lindbergh human. In 1942, when he first went to Detroit to work for Ford -- the only company powerful enough to defy the administration and allow him to work for the war effort -- his wife teased him for being a bad, impersonal correspondent. He answered at once with a love letter to melt the hardest heart.
Politics took them to unlikely places which she described with her customary understated skill. They spent the weekend with William Randolph Hearst, at his ranch in Oregon, where they breakfasted at 11, lunched at 4, dined at 11 and saw bad movies at midnight. Marion Davies seemed one of the most stable characters in this "extraordinary shifting artificial world" -- where the other guests could not understand why Lindbergh had once turned down "a fabulous amount of money" for a movie contract. "But he didn't know how to act," his wife protested.
Anne Lindbergh has written a delicate, beautiful description of her inner journey through turmoil, loneliness and exile to a new strength and triumph. She has come a long way, in this final volume, from the tentative, shy young woman of her earlier diaries. She has more starch, more sense of who she is and what she needs, the confidence, at last, to write more openly about herself, her husband and their marriage which was strengthened in adversity and was surely based on love. Her description of meeting him at Mitchell Field in 1939 tells it all: "When he comes over the field I recognize him even though I did not know what plane he was flying . . . Coming out of the sky with a kind of directness, a kind of magnificence that is only his. And when he banks his plane around the field, with that slow and absolute grace, it is as much him as a texture of his hand. It catches my breath. I have always taken it for granted. But to see it in the sky . . . it is an act of creative beauty, a work of art."