Christopher C. Gorham
The Confidante: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Helped Win WWII and Shape Modern America
From modest immigrant beginnings—lacking even a high school diploma—Anna Rosenberg rose to the highest levels of American power and stayed there, shaping national policies in areas dominated by men: business, the military, and politics. Her impact on the nation, vital to victory and postwar prosperity, can be felt even today.
The Confidante: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Helped Win WWII and Shape Modern America illuminates one of the most influential women in modern American history. Deeply researched, this is the first book to fully recognize Anna Rosenberg’s remarkable life and contributions to America’s success during and after World War II; it reveals her uncommon skills as a leader, her abilities to observe and connect, and her profound influence in shaping and implementing many of the nation’s most significant public policies.
Anna Rosenberg was at the pivot points of history from the New Deal to the 1960s. As a trusted advisor to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman during WWII, her personnel plan for the Arsenal of Democracy became the nationwide model; she preserved the secrecy of the atomic bomb, and following her mission to wartime Europe, she guided the direction of the G.I. Bill. For her contributions to victory, Anna Rosenberg became the first recipient of the Medal of Freedom. As the Cold War heated up, Anna Rosenberg was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense, where she rebuilt the military and reshaped its policies.
It was a pinnacle she may have never reached. During the desperate early days of the Korean War, a cabal of extremists led by Senator Joe McCarthy tried to prevent Rosenberg from taking her post at the Defense Department by accusing her of being a communist. She knew she wore the bull’s-eye. “I was Jewish, an immigrant, pro-labor, and a woman. What could have been worse?” By unfortunate coincidence, she also shared the name of the atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Unlike other victims of McCarthyism, however, Anna emerged with her career and integrity intact.
America’s success in World War II and the country’s post-war boom were in large part due to her impact behind the scenes. She was at home with society ladies as much as with a conference room full of teamsters; respected by soldiers on the front lines of foreign battlefields as well as by the Presidents who sent her there. Her combination of mettle, tenacity, charm, and Bronx-style toughness was undergirded by her unwavering loyalty to her adopted country.
[Recorded on 23 March 2023]