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Allies at War: The Bitter Rivalry Among Churchill, Roosevelt, and De Gaulle Hardcover – October 10, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf; 1st Carroll & Graf Ed edition (October 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786709499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786709496
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,048,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Berthon's narrative accompanies his forthcoming PBS telecast about Charles de Gaulle's struggles once France fell to the Nazis in 1940 to play the modern Joan of Arc. Aged 49 and a one-star general for only three weeks, he had flown to London five days before Paris was surrendered. Legally, Marshal P‚tain's collaborationist regime at Vichy represented France, but de Gaulle almost singlehandedly established the exile "Free French" to continue the war from England and some of the colonies. In Berthon's view, de Gaulle had four enemies Germany, Vichy, a skeptical Churchill and a hostile Roosevelt. This hostility, fed by at best half-truths from Roosevelt's rightist links to P‚tain ambassador Admiral Leahy, State Department adviser Charles Murphy and Secretary of State Cordell Hull more than by Churchill, shackled and even undermined de Gaulle. Berthon describes vividly the wartime climate of duplicity and distrust: Churchill tried to "straddle the two Frances"; de Gaulle compensated for his powerlessness with haughty pride; Roosevelt (for whom "France had lost all right to...respect by her abject failure in 1940") excluded de Gaulle from all decisions affecting France. Relations worsened in victory, when the French embraced de Gaulle and reality forced British/U.S. recognition of his legitimacy. In Berthon's opinion, Churchill equivocated, and U.S. players were villainous. Though he makes little of de Gaulle's postwar promotion of the myth of mass French resistance to fascism, his wartime de Gaulle is convincingly heroic. None of the three leaders comes off well which may give the book a controversial edge. 8 pages of b&w illus. (Oct.)Forecast: The three-part TV series is scheduled to run in 2002; in the meantime, the book is a History Book Club selection and should have broad appeal to readers of WWII titles.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Berthon's fascinating account of the relationship among Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Charles de Gaulle accompanies this fall's three-part BBC/PBS series Allies at War. Series producer Berthon shows that each had far from absolutely positive feelings about the others and that while the relationships changed over time, they were hardly the picture of mutual support one might expect from Allied leaders fighting the Axis. The troubled relationships stemmed from the three leaders' different politics, goals, and personalities. The fall of France produced the rise of Charles de Gaulle, whom FDR never took seriously until the very end of the war. Churchill, who initially admired de Gaulle, was trapped by his dependence on FDR into undermining the French. Churchill is presented as a source of good advice, but FDR often received far from good advice. In some ways, de Gaulle emerges indirectly as the hero of this story despite his many personality flaws. Though this is not a new story, and the absence of footnotes may bother scholars, it is nonetheless a readable and captivating glimpse into the personalities and goals of the three Allied giants. Recommended for public libraries. William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Simon Berthon's fine overview of General De Gaulle and his complex relationships with Churchill and Roosevelt raises more questions than it answers. I couldn't help but wonder whether a more concilliatory attitude towards De Gaulle by Churchill, and especially, Roosevelt, might have led to a more harmonious postwar relationship between the United States and France during the Cold War. Certainly France's independent foreign policy seems at times designed to be spiteful of U. S. interests; no doubt this is part of a bitter legacy stemming from De Gaulle's difficult relationships with the wartime leaders of Britain and America. Berthon does a fine job portraying De Gaulle as a stern man of principle motivated solely by what he thought was in France's best interest, not his own. Despite flaws in pacing and occasional typos, "Allies at War" is a revealing look at a largely overlooked saga of World War Two, and hence deserves my strong recommendation to those interested in Allied politics during the course of the war.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roaming Seer on December 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Allies at War presents the story behind the scenes of de Gaulle, FDR, and Churchill. Reading the letters between these men and their internal conversations is very revealing. FDR comes across as being judgemental and surrounding himself with many incompetent cronnies. FDR's political manuevering is interesting as he switches sides, or seems to, from appeasement of the Vichy government to flirting with the Free French as election polls dictate many of his actions. Churchill comes across as temperamental and authoritarian. Although Churchill deeply admired de Gaulle, he is willing to appease FDR's hatred for de Gaulle because of the enormous military aid which the United States can bring to bare to win the war. Charles de Gaulle comes across as man of principle who is very temperamental and outspoken. Many of the outbursts seem unforgiveable in the eyes of Churchill and FDR but often are simply honest remarks and answers to questions asked by the press.
The editors did a poor job of correcting typo and grammatical mistakes in this book. Also, Berthon's pacing appears off kilter. One feels the author rushes to finish the book. FDR's flirtation with Stalin and its effect on the leaders is explored in only the slightest degree. Berthon summarizes the effect of these after war tensions in a very short chapter of fifteen pages. De Gaulle's criticizing of America's Vietnam War as a "detestable war, since it leads a great nation to ravage a small one," is portrayed as resentment against America for FDR's bad treatment of him during WWII; the author never justifies this last judgement with any collaborating facts.
In conclusion, this book reveals some insight into the often contentious relationship between the three leaders.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Berthon's book studies the conduct of World War II as a reflection of the personalities of De Gaulle, Churchill and FDR. His thesis is that De Gaulle, a noble man of steadfast character and selfless behavior, was badly treated by Churchill and particularly by FDR, who is portrayed as odious and rather stupid by Berthon. Berthon ascribes De Gaulle's post-war prickly behavior to residual hurt over his earlier ill-treatment. The focus is clearly on the war, and not on the later Gaullist governments.
What to make of the book? C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre. Berthon uses much of the apparatus of TV docudramas, recounting the thoughts and feelings of the participants without any evidence to back up his assertions.He ignores De Gaulle's manifest lack of success at leading resistance, the chief cause of tension between De Gaulle and the allies. His bibliography lists certain Gaullist sources assembled after the war, and some standard histories, but leaves out many vital sources essential for understanding De Gaulle and France, concentrating on those loyal to the General. Complex questions are ignored, incidents contrary to Berthon's thesis overlooked. Much of it reads like a press release from Jacques Soustelle, circa 1950. There are numerous errors of fact, most of them unimportant, but unsettling in the context of the book. Berthon does not discuss practical factors, but focuses exclusively on personalities- one emerges with the impression that FDR and Churchill enjoyed the kind of untrammelled personal power that Stalin might have aspired to. It makes his book all the weaker that the portraits of the three leaders do not really agree with many of the sources.
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