Commander in Chief (FDR at War, #2)
In the next installment of the "splendid memoir Roosevelt didn't get to write" (New York Times), Nigel Hamilton tells the astonishing story of FDR's year-long, defining battle with Churchill, as the war raged in Africa and Italy.Nigel Hamilton's Mantle of Command, long-listed for the National Book Award, drew on years of archival research and interviews to portray FDR in a tight close up, as he determined Allied strategy in the crucial initial phases of World War II. Commander in Chief reveals the astonishing sequel — suppressed by Winston Churchill in his memoirs — of Roosevelt's battles with Churchill to maintain that strategy. Roosevelt knew that the Allies should take Sicily but avoid a wider battle in southern Europe, building experience but saving strength to invade France in early 1944. Churchill seemed to agree at Casablanca — only to undermine his own generals and the Allied command, testing Roosevelt’s patience to the limit. Churchill was afraid of the invasion planned for Normandy, and pushed instead for disastrous fighting in Italy, thereby almost losing the war for the Allies. In a dramatic showdown, FDR finally set the ultimate course for victory by making the ultimate threat. Commander in Chief shows FDR in top form at a crucial time in the modern history of the West.

Commander in Chief (FDR at War, #2) Details

TitleCommander in Chief (FDR at War, #2)
Author
ReleaseJun 7th, 2016
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-139780544279117
Rating
GenreHistory, Biography, War, World War II, Nonfiction, Politics, Presidents, Us Presidents, North American Hi..., American History

Commander in Chief (FDR at War, #2) Review

  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    “There is a longing in the air. It is not a longing to go back to what they call ‘the good old days.’ I have distinct reservations as to how good ‘the good old days’ were. I would rather believe that we can achieve new and better days. Absolute victory in this war will give greater opportunities to the world, because the winning of the war in itself is certainly proving to all of us…that concerted action can accomplish things. Surely we can make strides toward a greater freedom from want than th “There is a longing in the air. It is not a longing to go back to what they call ‘the good old days.’ I have distinct reservations as to how good ‘the good old days’ were. I would rather believe that we can achieve new and better days. Absolute victory in this war will give greater opportunities to the world, because the winning of the war in itself is certainly proving to all of us…that concerted action can accomplish things. Surely we can make strides toward a greater freedom from want than the world has yet enjoyed. Surely by unanimous action in driving out the outlaws and keeping them under heel forever, we can attain a freedom from fear of violence…I would rather be a builder than a wrecker, hoping always that the structure of life is growing – not dying.”- President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address to the Canadian Parliament, Ottawa, Canada, August 25, 1943 “Aided by his ‘syndicate’ of researchers, civil servants, and historian-aides, [Winston] Churchill was able to have his day in literary court, in his six-volume opus, The Second World War, which helped win him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953…For the memory of President Roosevelt…it was, however, near-devastating, since its magisterial narrative placed Churchill at the center of the war’s direction and President Roosevelt very much at the periphery…In many ways, then, this book and its predecessor are a counternarrative, or corrective: my attempt to tell the story of Roosevelt’s exercise of high command from his – not Churchill’s – perspective.- Nigel Hamilton, Commander in Chief: FDR’s Battle with Churchill, 1943History is not simply written by the victors; it is written by those who know how to tell good stories. To that end, Winston Churchill has had a marked impact on the historiography of the Second World War. First and foremost, of course, was his role as Prime Minister of Great Britain, where he took an incredibly hands-on approach to running the war. No matter the mistakes he made – and he made a boatload – one can only admire the pugnacious way he stood up to Adolf Hitler, even after France had fallen, and even while the Soviet Union still held the hands of the Nazis. Beyond his influence as a historical actor, though, Churchill also had extraordinary literary skills. His way with words is almost awe-inspiring, and this skill – combined with an exceptionally long life – ensured that his time as Prime Minister only grew with time. Carefully shaping, exaggerating, and eliding events allowed him to build a lasting memorial – to himself. As Nigel Hamilton observes, this was an advantage denied to the American leader, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR never had the chance to write his memoirs or defend his actions or give a speech at the United Nations, which he had called into being. Instead, he died suddenly before the great world war – which he had done so much to win – even ended. Hamilton has taken it upon himself to attempt to wrest the grand narrative away from Churchill and retell a familiar story in an FDR-centric way. To do this, he has undertaken an ambitious, three-volume project designed to reclaim some lost glory. In Mantle of Command, the first volume in the series, Hamilton set the stage for his argument, positioning Churchill as an empire-obsessed blunderer whose soaring rhetoric could not quite match the string of defeats suffered by his nation. Covering the time-period from Pearl Harbor to the landings in North Africa, Hamilton posited that FDR convinced both Churchill and his own chiefs of staff that Operation Torch was the only way to get into the war without being mercilessly slaughtered by the Wehrmacht.Hamilton continues the tale in Commander in Chief, this time focusing on the post-Torch wrangling over where the Allies would strike next. Specifically, Hamilton tries to make this a battle of wills between Churchill (who wanted to nibble on the periphery of the Axis’ ill-gotten empire) and Roosevelt (who supported a cross-Channel invasion in 1944). As in the first book, Commander in Chief is not a chronological narrative. Rather, it is structured as a series of “episodes,” twelve in all, that Hamilton feels are useful in highlighting FDR’s skills as overall commander of American forces (and in a broader sense, the free world). These so-called episodes really run the gamut. Some are useful (the section on the Casablanca Conference), some are useless (such as the chapters on Roosevelt’s flight to Morocco, which does nothing more than teach us that flying boats are really, really cool), and some are simply perplexing (such as Hamilton’s contention that FDR used the leverage of atomic secrets to get Churchill to agree to Operation Overlord, without providing any supporting evidence). Hamilton’s style is informal and pugnacious. He peppers his writing with rhetorical questions, exclamatory asides, and broad interpretations about what various figures were thinking and feeling. His method is readable and engaging and it took me just a handful of days to get through the 399 pages of text. (And I was drunk for a couple of those days!)Unfortunately, overall, Commander in Chief is quite disappointing. While Mantle of Command had its weaknesses, it also provided a number of helpful insights (and also hit Churchill right in the groin of his reputation: his position as an unreconstructed colonialist). Instead of rectifying the issues that plagued Mantle of Command, Hamilton tends to repeat them, and then repeat them again, and then again (repetitiveness being one of this book’s flaws). Commander in Chief’s major issue is a lack of sourcing. Hamilton has a reputation as a dogged researcher and library hound. Those skills are not put on display here. His list of sources is painfully thin, and he tends to draw on a very few people for the bulk of his contentions. For instance, he quotes extensively from FDR’s distant cousin Daisy Suckley, whose patent adoration for Roosevelt makes her less-than-objective. (On the other hand, I appreciated his use of Canadian PM Mackenzie King, who kept detailed diary entries covering his face-to-face conversations with the American President). The paucity of actual witnesses is made all the more apparent by Hamilton’s tendency to cut away from Roosevelt’s story to spend time with Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. Granted, Goebbels’ diary entries are fascinating; at the same time, they have only the most tenuous connection to the points Hamilton is trying to make, and thus feel like filler. Hamilton is an extremely opinionated historian. In general, I am fine with this. Most historians have their biases and blind-spots, and I prefer honesty in this regard than the false veil of “objectivity.” But if you are going to give an opinion, you have to provide the factual premises upon which your conclusion is based. If you don’t give me the foundation, if you don’t give me the evidence, then you’re no better than Cliff Clavin, perched at the end of the bar, spouting confident nonsense. Too often in Commander in Chief, Hamilton would write something provocative without including that little superscript at the end of a sentence, denoting an endnote. Hamilton’s agenda is to raise Roosevelt up to the heights he imagines occupied by Churchill. Alas, when you advance such an agenda without proofs, you tend to make your position seem weaker, not stronger. Oddly, then, I thought that Commander in Chief tended to diminish FDR rather than enlarge him. The reason, I fear, is that Hamilton has taken the wrong course. It could very well be that Roosevelt simply can’t compare to Churchill, for the simple reason they played such different roles. Churchill was both the bellicose warrior and the eager strategist, with very keen ideas about the direction of the war. Yet he was also enraptured by a fading vision of the world, inextricably tethered to Empire and colonialism and notions of racial supremacy. Roosevelt, in my opinion, simply wasn’t as involved in the daily mechanics of war-making as Hamilton asserts, at least not relative to his orotund, cigar-smoking, scotch-swilling counterpart. Yet he possessed a prominence all his own. FDR recognized the dangers of totalitarianism early on, and oversaw the massive transformation of American industry from Model Ts and refrigerators to aircraft carriers and long-range bombers. For good and for ill, he took an isolationist nation and turned it into a global military machine that would soon ascend to be the most powerful on earth. He also had a far-reaching vision of the postwar world that Churchill – still clinging to his Indian dreams – sorely lacked.Hamilton is not wrong in identifying Franklin D. Roosevelt as a world-historical figure, an equal to Churchill and Stalin as the titans of an age. His error is in attempting to demonstrate FDR’s greatness in reference to theirs, rather than accepting – and celebrating – his own uniquely transformative gifts.
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  • Jim Cooper
    January 1, 1970
    Shoutout to William Lyon Mackenzie King! The 10th Prime Minister of Canada made this book possible with his dedicated journals of his war-time conversations with Churchill and FDR (they both trusted him implicitly).Because FDR died before he had a chance to write his version of events, we can only see through his eyes because of the the people closest to him - their letters back and forth, diary entries. Hamilton does a fantastic job putting it all together and it’s an important job too - the tr Shoutout to William Lyon Mackenzie King! The 10th Prime Minister of Canada made this book possible with his dedicated journals of his war-time conversations with Churchill and FDR (they both trusted him implicitly).Because FDR died before he had a chance to write his version of events, we can only see through his eyes because of the the people closest to him - their letters back and forth, diary entries. Hamilton does a fantastic job putting it all together and it’s an important job too - the true story of FDR’s leadership during WWII needs to be told. He wasn’t just battling Germany and Japan to win the war, but Stalin and Churchill to keep the future safe for democracy. This is the second book of three. I enjoyed the first a little more but only because it was so exciting to get to see behind the scenes for the first time. This continues the fascinating story. My favorite parts were the ones with King. I will have to read more about him.
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  • Scott
    January 1, 1970
    Certain topics seem like they have been sufficiently covered, and the American role in World War II would seem to be one of them, as is the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The books that have been written on these topics can be measured in metric tons or by the millions of pages. What else is there to say?Well, according to Nigel Hamilton, plenty. Hamilton is no stranger to biography ("JFK: Reckless Youth," and "Monty" have both won acclaim and awards in addition to stratospheric sales) Certain topics seem like they have been sufficiently covered, and the American role in World War II would seem to be one of them, as is the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The books that have been written on these topics can be measured in metric tons or by the millions of pages. What else is there to say?Well, according to Nigel Hamilton, plenty. Hamilton is no stranger to biography ("JFK: Reckless Youth," and "Monty" have both won acclaim and awards in addition to stratospheric sales), and this is Hamilton's second book on Franklin Delano Roosevelt, following up on "The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941-1942." One of the main reasons Hamilton decided to write about FDR was to combat the universal truth of history - history is not really written by the victors, it is written by the survivors.As a child of Britain and an historian, Hamilton is very familiar with Winston Churchill's epic six-volume history, 'The Second World War,' for which the former Prime Minister won the Nobel Prize for history. Churchill wrote that history in large part because of his incredibly massive brain and understanding of history, but also due to his insatiable desire for fame. While Churchill's importance in the Allied victory in World War II is undeniable, it can be overstated . . . as Churchill himself did in his history. While nobody can deny the brilliance of his prose, many historians, Nigel Hamilton included, deny the accuracy of Churchill's version of the story.But we do not have FDR's competing assessment thanks to the sad fact that he died while World War II was still raging, and he did not have the opportunity to write or publish his own memoirs.In Churchill's telling, Churchill often led the well-meaning but overwhelmed American president. Hamilton refutes this with rigorous attention to contemporary documents, including diaries and letters sent by parties who can be perceived as reasonably objective - such as the Canadian prime minister.Indeed, if FDR had not stood up to Churchill, the Allied victory in World War II was not certain. Churchill was focused in many ways on retaining the British Empire, which required control of the Mediterranean and other sea lanes. And so it was the Churchill advocated for a broad Allied push up to Germany through the Balkans, Greece, and Italy rather than the cross-Channel invasion that was achieved in D-Day. Such a strategy may well have led to an Allied bloodbath fighting through brutal terrain . . . and may well have allowed Germany the time to negotiate a peace.Such speculation is interesting, but two things are beyond doubt: the Allies won the war, and they did so by following a strategy that FDR pushed for rather than Churchill.To be fair, in Hamilton's telling, this was far more than an 'FDR versus Churchill' dispute. But that makes FDR's achievement all the more important as he pursued his agenda against the British leadership, against the wily Stalin, and even a few American generals . . . all while balancing the need to help in Europe against the American people's furious desire for revenge against Japan.There is a line about FDR - that he had a second-rate mind but a first-rate temperament - that is on display a bit in this story, but it seems that FDR had several more first-rate attributes than just his temperament. Highly recommended.
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  • Edgar Raines
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very readable account restoring FDR to his central place in directing the American war effort. It is at times too dismissive of those who disagreed with FDR and at times the writing could be tighter. This is the second volume in a projected three-volume study of FDR as wartime commander-in-chief. One of the advantages of this account is that it clears away seventy year old partisan barnacles. Hamilton's FDR is neither naive or deluded in dealing with the Russians. This is an interestin This is a very readable account restoring FDR to his central place in directing the American war effort. It is at times too dismissive of those who disagreed with FDR and at times the writing could be tighter. This is the second volume in a projected three-volume study of FDR as wartime commander-in-chief. One of the advantages of this account is that it clears away seventy year old partisan barnacles. Hamilton's FDR is neither naive or deluded in dealing with the Russians. This is an interesting and important addition to a series that should in future years become the standard reference on the subject.
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  • Christopher
    January 1, 1970
    One of the best books of history I have read in recent years was Nigel Hamilton's The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941–1942. It did much to challenge the old narrative that FDR was, mostly, a hands-off commander-in-chief who gave some direction to the military, but left them to do most of the strategizing. In reality, as that book makes plain, FDR overcame a serious challenge to his authority from his military chiefs and urged the invasion of North Africa, which turned out to be an incredibl One of the best books of history I have read in recent years was Nigel Hamilton's The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941–1942. It did much to challenge the old narrative that FDR was, mostly, a hands-off commander-in-chief who gave some direction to the military, but left them to do most of the strategizing. In reality, as that book makes plain, FDR overcame a serious challenge to his authority from his military chiefs and urged the invasion of North Africa, which turned out to be an incredible diplomatic and military coup. I was so impressed by that book that I did not feel there needed to be another. Imagine my delighted surprise then to find Mr. Hamilton continuing his story here with another impressive entry. In this book, having overcome dissent within the ranks of his military chiefs, FDR spends most of 1943 asserting the United States as the preeminent leader of the Western Allies. That means overcoming Great Britain's courageous, but volatile, prime minister, Winston Churchill. Mr. Hamilton deftly shows how this was no small task. Churchill was very afraid to launch a Cross-Channel invasion of mainland Europe and FDR had to constantly keep him, and the entire Allied war effort, from being derailed by one of Churchill's pet schemes in the Mediterranean. Indeed, just as soon as Churchill would leave one conference, having assented to the Operation Overlord, he would start to renege. It must have been incredibly frustrating and nothing less than success in the war, as well as the Post-War World Order FDR was envisioning, hung on the success of their partnership. Indeed, FDR's ideas for a new Post-War World Order is a constant leit motif throughout this book. There has been some debate as to whether or not FDR envisioned how difficult dealing with the Soviets would be or whether or not he was truly giving up Eastern Europe to Soviet domination after the war. Backed by incredible research into, among other documents, then-Canadian Prime Minster Mackenzie King's extensive diaries during these days, Mr. Hamilton shows that not only was FDR envisioning a Post-War World Order at the same time American forces were landing in North Africa, but that FDR was well aware that Stalin was just as bad as Hitler, but the U.S. could only do so much for Eastern Europe and the Balkans at that time. Indeed, Mr. Hamilton seems to suggest that FDR was already seeing the contours of the conflict that would become the Cold War long before anyone else could, which is why he kept Churchill and Great Britain so close to himself and America as a sign of Western resolve not just to Nazi Germany and Japan then, but to the Soviets later. The one thing I have against this book is that Mr. Hamilton, for the sake of creative license, seems to act as if he knows exactly what is going on FDR's head. Often times he'll write about how FDR "could only shake his head" at Churchill or the military chiefs saying or suggesting something supremely stupid. It smacks of the 20/20 hindsight that historians often enjoy when looking at past events. However, I will say that Mr. Hamilton, backed by the personal diaries of key figures surrounding FDR and Churchill during these days, must be very close to truth. In summation, this is another surprisingly enlightening look at FDR as Commander-in-Chief not just of American forces, but of Allied forces as well.
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  • M Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    This is the second volume of Nigel Hamilton’s series on “FDR at War” and it is a gem. In this series of volumes the author has embarked on a mission to present Franklin Roosevelt as Commander-in-Chief and to tell the story of how he directed when and where the war would be fought. This is an important story because Roosevelt’s direction of the Western Allies has not really been told before.This sequel to “Mantel of Command” covers the conferences of 1943 that decided what would happen after Nazi This is the second volume of Nigel Hamilton’s series on “FDR at War” and it is a gem. In this series of volumes the author has embarked on a mission to present Franklin Roosevelt as Commander-in-Chief and to tell the story of how he directed when and where the war would be fought. This is an important story because Roosevelt’s direction of the Western Allies has not really been told before.This sequel to “Mantel of Command” covers the conferences of 1943 that decided what would happen after Nazi forces were defeated in North Africa. Hamilton has written a very lively and entertaining story that demonstrates that FDR was the senior partner of the Western Allies. The author exquisitely shows that Roosevelt had the clearest vision of how the war should progress, that he understood that this war must end with unconditional surrender, and that, of the Big Three leaders, only Roosevelt understood that an international organization would be necessary to ensure the peace in the post war world. What I really appreciated was Hamilton’s efforts to inform and remind the reader that the war could not have been won without full US participation and the war with Hitler would most probably have been lost if Churchill had been allowed to direct it.It should be noted that even though this book is titled “Commander in Chief: FDR's Battle with Churchill, 1943” it does not cover all of 1943. The narrative begins with the opening of 1943 and ends in September of that year; just after the QUADRANT Conference in Quebec. FDR’s battle with Churchill was all about the cross-channel invasion. Winston did not want to do it under any circumstances other than a collapse of the Nazi war effort. It took three separate conferences to settle the matter. Roosevelt and his Joint Chiefs thought the matter settled after each conference only to later have Churchill insist that he had not committed to a cross-channel invasion. This duplicity on the part of Churchill did the most damage to the Anglo-American partnership and only Roosevelt’s patients, determination, scolding and threats kept the partnership together. Thanks to FDR’s efforts he finally did force Churchill to accept that the invasion of Northern France would take place in the spring of 1944.I do find fault in the author’s assertion that Roosevelt blackmailed Churchill into accepting a firm commitment to the invasion. Hamilton says, “If Churchill would not adhere to the American Overlord strategy, as per the Trident agreement reached in May [1943], the President thus quietly indicated to the Prime Minister that the United States would have to withhold an agreement to share development of the atomic weapon.” (p. 313) No citation is given for this assertion so I assume no such ultimatum can be verified. I am willing to believe the author’s conclusion but it would have been wonderful for him to elaborate on what evidence persuades him.All-in-all this is a very good, very entertaining and very fast read and I am hoping the author does continue his story with a final third volume.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    This second volume of Hamilton's FDR trilogy is definitely a step up from the first. His prose is more balanced and less fawning toward FDR. I did feel, however (and maybe I am wrong), that some portions seemed repetitive. I liked that he drew upon MacKenzie King's notes as a contemporary witness to show that his impressions were shared at the time. He did repeat his lack of knowledge of Canadian geography by twice calling Quebec its capital early on, before later getting it right later on. He a This second volume of Hamilton's FDR trilogy is definitely a step up from the first. His prose is more balanced and less fawning toward FDR. I did feel, however (and maybe I am wrong), that some portions seemed repetitive. I liked that he drew upon MacKenzie King's notes as a contemporary witness to show that his impressions were shared at the time. He did repeat his lack of knowledge of Canadian geography by twice calling Quebec its capital early on, before later getting it right later on. He also called a 500+ bomber raid on Rome on July 19, 1943 the largest yet of the war, though the Brits (arguably) did a 1,000 plane raid on Cologne on May 30, 1942. OK, that's picky stuff. What Hamilton does do well in this volume is to detail Churchill's maddening flips on Overlord, constantly reverting to his obsession with Mediterranean diversions, and attempts to get Turkey to enter the war. Perhaps Winston wanted to make up for his disastrous WW1 invasion of Gallipoli by trying it again. It also continues to expose FDR's constant need to deal with his own advisers' and generals' backbiting and going counter to his strategic aims. I will read the last volume when it is released.
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  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    Nearly 75 years after WWII has ended; Hamilton presents a compelling case that Roosevelt not only was fighting the Axis powers, but also his key partner, Winston Churchill. Churchill was determined to maintain the British Empire which affected his overall strategic vision of how to conduct the war—particularly in the Asian sub-continent. While he was determined to win President Roosevelt’s cooperation—the U.S. was key to providing the means to wage war after all—he was obstinate as to how to pur Nearly 75 years after WWII has ended; Hamilton presents a compelling case that Roosevelt not only was fighting the Axis powers, but also his key partner, Winston Churchill. Churchill was determined to maintain the British Empire which affected his overall strategic vision of how to conduct the war—particularly in the Asian sub-continent. While he was determined to win President Roosevelt’s cooperation—the U.S. was key to providing the means to wage war after all—he was obstinate as to how to pursue the war. Churchill was preoccupied with the Mediterranean effort and continually underestimated the power and skill of the Wehrmacht. The cross channel invasion would likely have never occurred if Churchill's strategy prevailed. On the other hand, Churchill understood better than most the threat posed by the Allies’ Soviet partner, Stalin. Recommend.
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  • Robert Sparrenberger
    January 1, 1970
    As someone who grew up in the post wwii world, it is always assumed that the United States and Britain defeated the nazis and sailed into the sunset. This book points out the difference between Churchill and Roosevelt as to the execution of the war and where it would be fought. The main theme is that Churchill and Roosevelt were not unified and Roosevelt had to bring Churchill around to his way of thinking about the cross channel attack. The author really wants the reader to know that Churchill’ As someone who grew up in the post wwii world, it is always assumed that the United States and Britain defeated the nazis and sailed into the sunset. This book points out the difference between Churchill and Roosevelt as to the execution of the war and where it would be fought. The main theme is that Churchill and Roosevelt were not unified and Roosevelt had to bring Churchill around to his way of thinking about the cross channel attack. The author really wants the reader to know that Churchill’s strategy to attack from the underbelly was a bad one and that Roosevelt had the winning ideas. This is a dry book for people with details about 1943. It’s an interesting read however. Recommend
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  • Marshall
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent follow up to Hamilton's previous book. I think he might overstate the case against Churchill, but not by much. Churchill's problem was that he lacked a team of subordinates who could argue or contest certain tactical approaches to the Prime Minister's strategic insights. Churchill was a legend after 1940 and that at times proved problematic. The book retains the essential strength of the first book which is that it provides Roosevelt's essential strategic vision for the war and its An excellent follow up to Hamilton's previous book. I think he might overstate the case against Churchill, but not by much. Churchill's problem was that he lacked a team of subordinates who could argue or contest certain tactical approaches to the Prime Minister's strategic insights. Churchill was a legend after 1940 and that at times proved problematic. The book retains the essential strength of the first book which is that it provides Roosevelt's essential strategic vision for the war and its outcome. Roosevelt sought an approach that provided the US with the ability to develop battle hardened forces when 1944 began. He also demonstrates the struggles Roosevelt had not only in winning the war, but the thankless task of managing the Grand Alliance.
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  • Roger Taylor
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent study of the relationship between FDR and Churchill during the critical year 1943 when important decisions were being made about the timing of the cross channel invasion and the conduct of the campaign in the Mediterranean. While it does seem somewhat biased towards FDR and against Churchill, the author does seem to have some convincing evidence to suggest that Roosevelt had a more practical grasp of the reality of conducting the war against Hitler in Europe than did Churchill who a An excellent study of the relationship between FDR and Churchill during the critical year 1943 when important decisions were being made about the timing of the cross channel invasion and the conduct of the campaign in the Mediterranean. While it does seem somewhat biased towards FDR and against Churchill, the author does seem to have some convincing evidence to suggest that Roosevelt had a more practical grasp of the reality of conducting the war against Hitler in Europe than did Churchill who at times seemed to wander off into delusions of grandeur. Well worth reading.
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  • Stephen Ruch
    January 1, 1970
    I am a huge historical non-fiction fan and this did not disappoint. The book's details are enhanced due to the Author taking much of the backstory directly from the notes and diaries of both FDR's and Churchill's relatives, secretaries, aides and Generals. I learned a great deal of insights that helped to explain what was going on at the time, as well as, how and why certain decisions were made. I heartily recommend this to anyone who has an interest in WWII and/or Presidential history.
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  • P
    January 1, 1970
    Well researched sequel to Mantle of Command. I think the first book was a little beefier but perhaps it's just that the first book always seems better. I would recommend reading the previous book first just to get the tone, but it is not absolutely necessary. They are definitely stand alone books.Recommend it for Churchill/Roosevelt buffs.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    With hundreds of books written about FDR, and thousands about WWII, Hamilton reveals the real challenges and triumphs of Franklin Roosevelt as Commander in Chief of the free nations of the Western Alliance. Superb history.
  • Joan
    January 1, 1970
    I really learned a lot and enjoyed the differences between FDR's story and Churchill's, very telling of their personalities and their different priorities and visions of the future.
  • Gerry Connolly
    January 1, 1970
    Nigel Hamilton's 2nd volume on FDR's WWII leadership is superb. Commander In Chief shows it was FDR not Churchill who understood the need for a second front in France.
  • Paul Myers
    January 1, 1970
    Strategy and personalityHamilton traces the overall strategy to win a comples global war to FDR and link winning the war to winning the peace.
  • Roger Rosenberg
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent. Eager for the third volume.
  • Sekhar N Banerjee
    January 1, 1970
    Simply excellent It was a fascinating read - loaded with facts , we get the actual story on the execution of allied forces in the European theater.
  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    Given our current situation, this book makes you want to cry. The poise, paitence, and leadership that FDR demonstrated during this critical time was amazing and sorely missed.
  • Jim
    January 1, 1970
    This is a riveting account of Franklin Roosevelt's handling of American and Allied strategies during the course of 1943. That year was a pivotal and critical one for U.S. forces. It began with Operation Torch having just begun with the invasion of North Africa by green U.S. troops. This was the first taste of battle of these American troops with the battle-hardened German troops of the Wehrmacht and Rommel's famed Afrika Corps. After a number of setbacks the U.S. and British forces succeeded in This is a riveting account of Franklin Roosevelt's handling of American and Allied strategies during the course of 1943. That year was a pivotal and critical one for U.S. forces. It began with Operation Torch having just begun with the invasion of North Africa by green U.S. troops. This was the first taste of battle of these American troops with the battle-hardened German troops of the Wehrmacht and Rommel's famed Afrika Corps. After a number of setbacks the U.S. and British forces succeeded in bringing about the capitulation of all German forces in North Africa.But this book is more than just a history of military campaigns. It is actually the story of FDR's intimate involvement in the direction of the war effort. It is the story of his first having to bring in line his own armed forces commanders, who were gung ho to invade the European mainland with a cross-English channel invasion from Britain. Roosevelt wisely realized that the American troops that would carry out this invasion needed combat experience - both the men and their commanders - before they could take on the mighty German forces that were manning the Atlantic Wall. Keeping his commanders in line was a difficult task. But even more difficult was keeping Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Britain in line. At a meeting off the coast of Halifax, he and Churchill came to agreement on what would become the heart of the United Nations - the countries allied against the Nazis and the Japanese militarists. Later in the Spring, at Casablanca, the two leaders and their armed forces commanders came to agreement, over Churchill's objections, that a cross-channel invasion could not take place until the Spring of 1944. Yet in repeated meetings after Casablanca, Churchill tried to renege on this agreement, preferring to strike at the "soft under belly" of Europe through Italy, the Balkans and Southern France. For Roosevelt, keeping Churchill on a short leash was a constant effort and strain. Ultimately, the Allies did invade Italy - and found that, despite Italian capitulation, the German troops who rushed in to defend the Italian peninsula were far more difficult to combat than anyone anticipated. Nevertheless, Churchill continued to press for fighting in Italy as opposed to supporting Operation Overlord, which would ultimately result in the D-Day landings on Normandy.As the author points out, the year of 1943 ended with Roosevelt and Churchill re-energizing their alliance in the face of what was quickly becoming seen as Soviet intransigence and outright antagonism. Stalin proved to be insular, non-communicative and then sullenly upset when he was not included in Allied conferences (despite being repeatedly invited by Roosevelt to meet throughout the year).This is an important book in the history of World War II. It demonstrate the great leadership skills of FDR and the critical role that he played in bringing the Allies to ultimate victory over the Nazis and the Japanese
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    Dr Hamilton has written an incisive and compelling book about the politics of fighting World War II, with the primary focus on President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, with much detail about Gen. Alan Brook, Gen George Marshall, Marshall Josef Stalin and many other leading figures of the war. The volume concentrates on the year 1943 in the European and North African theaters, and the decision making that led to the Torch, Husky, and Italian campaigns, and the arguments leading to the de Dr Hamilton has written an incisive and compelling book about the politics of fighting World War II, with the primary focus on President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, with much detail about Gen. Alan Brook, Gen George Marshall, Marshall Josef Stalin and many other leading figures of the war. The volume concentrates on the year 1943 in the European and North African theaters, and the decision making that led to the Torch, Husky, and Italian campaigns, and the arguments leading to the decision to launch the cross-channel Overlord campaign in 1944.Roosevelt is shown in all his ability to get Churchill to accept the American view of how to wage the war, although FDR is clearly influenced by the British experience (and American inexperience) in war-making against German military machine. He is shown to know when to push, when to pull, when to cajole, when to arm-twist, when to praise, being stubborn and conciliatory in turn, all in the service of getting the agreement he believes is the winning formula to win not only the war, but also the anticipated post-war peace. Churchill is shown as a man of ideas -- frequently changing, and not always in tune with the realities of what can be achieved -- and yet a man of strong moral courage. Stalin's role in the text is more limited, but his paranoia and secrecy are shown in full force, even while the Soviet Union is taking the brunt of the German war efforts during this year and during the war generally.This is the second of three volumes. I look forward to reading the first, The Mantle of Command, and also the yet-to be written third volume.
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  • Ian Divertie
    January 1, 1970
    Volume II of Nigel Hamilton's wartime history of FDR as wartime commander in chief of the West. Volume II covers 1943. Using many documents recently declassifed in a flurry in 2010 and documents for FDR's map room files within the White House, the picture appears of an FDR much more at the center of world war strategy than we had previously thought. Not for instance the passive puppet of Gen. Marshall, which turns out to be not even close to the truth. After difficulties in 1942 as to who was in Volume II of Nigel Hamilton's wartime history of FDR as wartime commander in chief of the West. Volume II covers 1943. Using many documents recently declassifed in a flurry in 2010 and documents for FDR's map room files within the White House, the picture appears of an FDR much more at the center of world war strategy than we had previously thought. Not for instance the passive puppet of Gen. Marshall, which turns out to be not even close to the truth. After difficulties in 1942 as to who was in charge of America's war effort, FDR or Sec. of War Stimson and Gen Marshall. FDR pointedly made Admiral Leahy the Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff for the American Military, FDR then went on and appointed Admiral Leahy the Chairman of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, the allies military command structure. Adm. Leahy was the only security official who had an office inside the White House. Who is Leahy? He seems almost erased from our history. Some recent biography is beginning to resurrect his memory and power. Post WW II politics and the Cold War obscured much of who was really important to victory versus those who were politically important to post war political reality, Republican versus Democrat. It never stops.
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  • Gwen
    January 1, 1970
    Captivating, behind the scenes story of the run up to D-day. Nigel Hamilton portrays the strength, vision and fortitude that FDR exhibited in his role as the Allies WWII Commander in Chief. Hamilton brings FDR out of Churchill's shadow yet at the same time a key lesson of the book is how critical the working bond of these two very different men was to world history. The war effort and post war world were made stronger by their collaboration. The book paints a vivid picture of the FDR/Churchill w Captivating, behind the scenes story of the run up to D-day. Nigel Hamilton portrays the strength, vision and fortitude that FDR exhibited in his role as the Allies WWII Commander in Chief. Hamilton brings FDR out of Churchill's shadow yet at the same time a key lesson of the book is how critical the working bond of these two very different men was to world history. The war effort and post war world were made stronger by their collaboration. The book paints a vivid picture of the FDR/Churchill working relationship in spite of grave differences in tactical approaches, age and personality.
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  • Paul Duggan
    January 1, 1970
    Revisionist history at its best although this narrative badly needed a capable editor.There are so many homonym errors - lynchpin for linchpin, dabauche for debouche - it's as if Hamilton dictated the text for later word processing entry.Nonetheless, this is a very good book explaining as its does the rocky relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill during the crucial year of World War II, 1943.Especially revealing to me is the clear-eyed assessment Roosevelt made of his Soviet "ally", Joseph Revisionist history at its best although this narrative badly needed a capable editor.There are so many homonym errors - lynchpin for linchpin, dabauche for debouche - it's as if Hamilton dictated the text for later word processing entry.Nonetheless, this is a very good book explaining as its does the rocky relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill during the crucial year of World War II, 1943.Especially revealing to me is the clear-eyed assessment Roosevelt made of his Soviet "ally", Joseph Stalin. Roosevelt know exactly what would happen to the Eastern European countries Stalin "liberated" from the Nazis.Another quibble - the main sources are the personal dairies of those close to Roosevelt. But I got a little too much of FDR's cousin Margaret Suckley and the Canadian Prime Minister Mackinzie King.More additional sources would have been helpful.
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  • Robert McKinley
    January 1, 1970
    FDR Was More of a CiC Than Historians Led Us to BelieveThankfully for USA, FDR did not die before his policy for defeating the Nazis and Japan was well on its way to a successful completion. Had he died in 1943, there is a good chance the Allies could have lost the war or at least had to settle for an armistice that would have left the militarist in both Germany and in Japan with power. VP Wallace would have been clueless and it is clear that Secretary of War Stimson wasn't much better. Even Gen FDR Was More of a CiC Than Historians Led Us to BelieveThankfully for USA, FDR did not die before his policy for defeating the Nazis and Japan was well on its way to a successful completion. Had he died in 1943, there is a good chance the Allies could have lost the war or at least had to settle for an armistice that would have left the militarist in both Germany and in Japan with power. VP Wallace would have been clueless and it is clear that Secretary of War Stimson wasn't much better. Even General Marshall was not as sharp strategically as we had been led to believe by other historians. Great follow-up to Mantle of Command. Eagerly awaiting the final book of the trilogy.
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  • Lawrence
    January 1, 1970
    An important book for students of WWII on the crucial decisions that FDR made in 1943 that saved the allies battle plans for the rest of the war. Winston Churchill a British Icon, kept fighting with FDR on the plans. Churchill proved in both World Wars that he was a poor military planner and a very stuburn man.
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  • Garry Sylvan
    January 1, 1970
    Most of the information in this WWII history if not all of it can be found in other books. Focuses in on real differences between FDR and Churchill. But Nigel Hamilton has that old penchant that many WWII historians use to have in referring to Wehrmacht Generalfieldmarshall Friedrich Paulus as " von Paulus ," he was no "von".
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  • Russell Berg
    January 1, 1970
    The structure and narrative of this continuation of Hamilton's biography of FDR was much weaker. The first volume had a strong narrative thread and an interesting structure, vol. 2 did not. I also feel that Hamilton should have ended with Overlord as the whole volume was about the build up to that point. It ended oddly with the landings in Italy.
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  • Lyle Krewson
    January 1, 1970
    A new analysis (second volume) of President Franklin Roosevelt’s leadership of the US and the Allies in WWII. Highly interesting and readable, and shed’s significant new light on FDR’s wartime leadership. Churchill virtually worshipped him, as his leadership of WWII was so successful, whereas Churchill’s strategy did not always workout well; he was perhaps the more visionary of the two, though.
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