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Commander in Chief: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants and Their War (Bluejacket Books) Paperback – May 1, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Larrabee (The Self-Conscious Society, etc.) here assembles what, essentially, is a collection of short biographies of four army generals (George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, Joseph Stilwell); two air force generals ("Hap" Arnold, Curtis LeMay); one marine general (A. A. Vandegrift); and two admirals (Ernest King, Chester Nimitz)all of whom oversaw the execution of Roosevelt's strategic directives during World War II. The emphasis throughout is on the relationships, direct and indirect, these officers had with the president, illustrating the premise that "more than any man FDR ran the war, and ran it well enough to deserve the gratitude of his countrymen then and since, and of those from whom he lifted the yoke of the Axis tyrannies." The book is well researched and superbly writtenand studded with the author's blunt opinions. Criticizing Roosevelt's China policy ("bad in conception, bad in execution"), Larrabee calls the president's treatment of Stilwell the darkest blot on his record as commander in chief. The chapter on MacArthur and his staff is especially scathing: "A false giant among real pygmies." Illustrations.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Larrabee does for World War II what T. Harry Williams did for the Civil War in his classic Lincoln and His Generals (1952). President Roosevelt was the most active Commander-in-Chief in U.S. history. He planned grand strategy, assumed leadership of the wartime alliance, and provided much of the day-by-day direction of vast armed forces. Larrabee shows how FDR brought the same formidable array of leadership skills to the nations's wartime problems as he did to its social illsdetailed scrutiny, deviousness, and remorseless "informal" conferences and letters. Along the way, the author provides beautifully detailed studies of FDR's relationships with Marshall, King, Arnold, Vandegrift, MacArthur, Nimitz, Eisenhower, Stilwell, and LeMay. A delight to read, the book is as fluidly written as it is sophisticated. Recommended for most libraries. Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Prog., Los Angeles
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 - 1 year
  • Series: Bluejacket Books
  • Paperback: 735 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591144558
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591144557
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Larrabee presents a convincing study of FDR as a shrewd strategist. However, I was quite taken by his concise, penetrating pieces on Marshall, Eisenhower, Nimitz, and King all whom came alive to this reader. His treatments of Arnold, Vandergrift, MacArthur, Stillwell, and LeMay are also well done. Never having read much on either Marshall and Eisenhower, I came away from this book with a profound respect for both men.If for some reason you labor under the illusion that Eisenhower is merely a "political general", read this book. Look at this way. George C. Marshall, a man whose strength of character is equalled only by maybe Robert E. Lee, handpicked Eisenhower. That in itself speaks volumes about Ike. King emerges as perhaps the best strategist of this star-studded group. It is indeed a shame that the hard-nosed, brilliant King is virtually forgotten. The author peppers his writing with lively anecdotes that keep the reader alert and provide telling insights to these men who made the decisions that brought us victory in WWII. Read this book if for no other reason than to enjoy Larrabee's wonderfully crafted treatments of these titans of WWII.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent, highly readable overview of the American involvement in World War II. The author himself served as a staff officer in the US Seventh Army fighting Germany and has a strong grasp of air, naval and ground force strategies. Roosevelt is convincingly shown as a leader with a strong understanding of strategy and geo-political factors. The principal commanders of US forces are profiled candidly and fairly. Recommended as a good overall view of the most seminal event of this century.
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Format: Hardcover
If you want a good read on the overall strategy and leadership qualities that these men brought to our country in its finest hour, then take off your shoes and settle into your favorite armchair. The referencing that went into the book is impressive. The facts are stunning. The leadership was impressive.
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By A Customer on October 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most useful and well written books that I have read on World War II. Larrabee discusses in depth some of the leading American commanders, including: Nimitz, Eisenhower, Lemay, MacArthur, King, Marshall, and Stilwell. His discussion of Vandegrift included a lengthy discussion of Chesty Puller and his exploits on Guadalcanal. Obviously, any discussion of Chesty Puller can be extremely humorous, but Larrabee's anecdotes left me in stitches. I have also read a review on this site alleging that Franklin Roosevelt was aware of the pending attack on Pearl Harbor. The reviewer alleges that based upon the correspondence between the German foreign minister and the Japanese government should have made Roosevelt aware of the attack. My only response is that if German participation was a foregone conclusion, then why did Germany wait until December 11th to declare war? This is an extemely useful overview of the American leaders and the strategy that they employed in World War II. It should be required reading by any American history class studying the 20th century.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked this book up not by choice in the beginning. I had to have it for a WWII class; I thought the book was going to put a strain on my already hectic schedule. Not the case at all.

This book was outstanding and Larrabee did an excellent job showing the mental, physical, and emotional strain on our leaders. The book is written in profiles so the book started with FDR and worked its way to Lemay for the ending. The profiles do not have to be read consecutively. The profiles were great descriptions with the Vandergrift profile being my favorite. Larrabee did an excellent job describing the Marines battles through their leader General Vandergrift. The profile on FDR showed that he had more strengths than weaknesses. The only apparent weakness being his health. Larrabee does an excellent portrayal of all the leaders and seemed a bit put off by Macarthur. Macarthur's profile was definately the most damning one in the book.

I agree with the one review that says this book should be read. This was a time when our country was united as one. Larrabee also does an excellent look at the Japanese command in the book. He has an in depth history of the Chinese Burma theatre. The book is a great starting point with WWII because the foundations are laid in leadership. Larrabee shows that the war was one with the competence of many great leaders during that time.

He also lead me to ask myself one question. Could FDR run his type of war in present time. I mean he did intern and imprison thousands of Japanese on the West Coast that had done nothing at all. He attacked Germany who never attacked the U.S. It was Japan who struck us on Dec. 7, 1941 not Germany. FDR saw the impending danger of Hitler and struck his head before there was a chance for attack.
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Format: Paperback
This is the best book written about the story of World War Two from the perspective of the American military commanders. It won an award from the Society of American Historians called the Francis Parkman Prize for historical excellence. This book is a World War Two classic. You will not find a better one-volume profile of the American commanders in WWII.

Roosevelt was great at picking the right people for the right positions, such as George Marshall, five star general. In Washington D.C., he was the overall commander of the United States military during the war (and later Truman's Secretary of State). His work was superb and, no doubt, ranks him among the greatest American leaders ever. Read about him in the book.

Many expected that Marshall would be given command of the D-Day invasion (and all it's glory), but when Roosevelt told Marshall that he was thinking of hand-picking Dwight Eisenhower and asked Marshall for his advice, leaving the door open for Marshall to lobby FDR, Marshall dutifully told Roosevelt that he should do only what he thought was best for the country. Roosevelt then moved immediately to appoint Eisenhower. It was a great moment of self-sacrifice for Marshall.

The information in this book on Eisenhower is even better. Read about it in the book.

Another great leader that FDR hand-picked was admiral Ernest King, a tough, demanding and resourceful leader. Roosevelt elevated him to commander of the United States Navy shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack, and King proved to be the ideal man at the right time. King was the first aviator to obtain command of the navy, and carrier warfare would emerge as the key to naval warfare during the conflict.

But the best part of this book is how the American commanders led America to victory in World War II. This is great history. It looked very uncertain for years. All of them, including FDR, did a great job. Read the book.
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