This was a unique approach to two major historical figures of the 20th century. Meacham gives you an inside look into how the these leaders interacted, argued and strived to achieve their own interests all while defeating the Axis powers. If you have any interest in the Second World War, Churchill or Roosevelt, then this should be on your bookshelf.
This is a fascinating study of one of the most important relationships of the 20th century. Although Churchill could not recall having met FDR at the tail-end of WWI, they opened their relationship soon after Churchill returned to the cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty.
The book is more intimate in tone than others I have read on this subject. Without this close association it is conceivable that Great Britain may have been subjugated by Nazi Germany. The relationship spawned that curious arrangement known as lend lease which sidestepped America’s Neutrality Act when public opinion there was dead set against involvement in the European war.
While Roosevelt grappled with public opinion, he helped as much as he dared. As their relationship grew deeper, the author treats it almost as if it was a love story. We watch Churchill on the haunt and succeeding with FDR even though his character was more elusive than Churchill’s. Both men had many things in common- patrician by birth, private school educations (public school in Churchill’s case) Exposure to the naval forces – Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty twice and Churchill as Under Secretary of the Navy in WWI. Both endured hardships dissimilar but character building. Both were used to and possessed commanding presence. Both were great actors on the political stage. Both men had a far reaching view of events – perhaps FDR’s was a longer view but both men realized the danger of Nazi Germany.
We see the relationship go through it ups and downs especially when Stalin entered the picture. The author notes how FDR turned on Churchill ganging up on him with Stalin. Churchill chagrined and angry but was always eager to continue the relationship. The deep sadness that Churchill felt at FDR’s death, we see them at their many conferences making far-reaching decisions on the progress of the war. We also see the sadness that pervaded Churchill when he realized that America was going to overtake Great Britain as a world power.
This is an excellent book, with great in-depth research and fine writing. Those who have an interest in one of the pivotal moments of history should read this book and those who have heard a little bit about the relationship between Churchill and FDR should also enjoy this book.
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