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Comment: Fine/Fine; Clean unmarked hardcover with tight square binding and sharp corners, in crisp unclipped dustjacket. NY: Random House, 2000. 3rd printing. 848 pages. Endnotes, bibliography, index. The fifth volume in the authors landmark biography of FDR. - - Easily removable inventory label, wrapped in Amazon warehouse for fulfillment.
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FDR: The War President, 1940-1943: A History Hardcover – November 28, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (November 28, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679415424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679415428
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 5.6 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #629,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The fifth volume of Kenneth S. Davis's magisterial, much-praised biography follows FDR from his re-election to an unprecedented third term in November 1940 through New Year's Eve, 1942, when he screened a brand-new film, Casablanca, at the White House. During the intervening 25 months, President Roosevelt prepared a reluctant nation for the war that he knew was coming, then struggled to maintain the government's commitment to his New Deal social programs, as well as the conflict overseas. Like its predecessors, this installment combines shrewd, intimate psychological insights into Roosevelt's character with a sweeping historical narrative of world events and a superbly detailed account of Washington political maneuvers--all three laid out in grave, elegant prose. Perhaps Davis's most notable achievement lies in tracing the links between FDR's personality and his leadership style: the unexpected benefits of his maddening indecisiveness, his ability to use even his crippling physical handicap to political advantage, the way in which the adult president cemented personal and professional ties with the evasive charm that he developed in adolescence to defend himself against a smothering mother. Admirers of serious yet accessible biography can regret only that the author's death in 1999 means that there will be no concluding volume to this magnificent series, which has shed so much light on one of the more complex men ever to inhabit the White House. --Wendy Smith

From Publishers Weekly

Davis, who died in June 1999, was in his usual excellent form with this last book in his critically acclaimed, five-volume portrait of the man many consider our greatest 20th-century president. We can probably blame Davis's untimely end for an untimely conclusion to this volume, which wraps up its narrative in December 1942 (a year and a half before D-Day) rather than with FDR's death in April 1945, shortly before the close of the war. That excusable flaw aside, his account is brilliant and engrossing in its vibrant and carefully researched portraits of Roosevelt as war politician, diplomat and commander-in-chief. Davis skillfully narrates Roosevelt's subtle diplomacy (both domestic and foreign) before Pearl Harbor, when the president did an end run around isolationists by orchestrating what Davis describes as a "guided drift toward war." Later, Davis lets readers sit beside the commander-in-chief as he directs the movement of ships and men that resulted in the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway (May and June 1942, respectively), the long siege at Guadalcanal (August through December 1942) and the success of the invasion of French North Africa (Operation Torch) in November of '42. The narrative is similarly adept in its profiles of FDR's closest wartime associatesDMorgenthau, Stimson and Hopkins among them. In the end, however, one inevitably leaves this splendid book wishing for more and for a proper conclusion, and wishing as well that Davis had been granted the time to give it to us. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Candace Scott on January 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I've purchased and enjoyed the four preceding Kenneth Davis studies on Franklin Roosevelt and this volume continues a masterful biographical effort. Davis' books are extremely detailed and if you have a peripheral interest in Roosevelt, he would probably not be the historian of choice. The minutiae he provides is a delight Roosevelt fans who love the slightest tid-bit on their hero. His research methods are sober, industrious and trustworthy, his FDR-bias generally masked.
The strength of this study is the focus upon FDR's masterful manner of maneuvering an isolationist power into war. The chapters on Lend-Lease, while not providing any new information, still make for riveting reading. The Churchill-FDR political and military partnership is also explored in depth, with Churchill justly taking some heavy criticism for some of his decisions and meddlesome efforts into the Allied offense against Hitler.
The only criticism is that Davis does not focus sufficiently on FDR as a human being and the vast importance of Eleanor Roosevelt is somewhat obsfucated. I would have liked to have seen some exploration into Eleanor's relationships with Lorena Hickock and Earl Miller, and a greater emphasis on FDR's relationship with Missy LeHand, his secretary.
Still, Davis' effort is an excellent continuation on his epic Roosevelt biography. I can't wait for the concluding volume.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Barry Kenyon on April 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
It was a pleasure to read Kenneth Davis' excellently written, fifth volume of his FDR biography. Starting with the re-election in 1940, Davis takes us through events until the end of 1942. His warm relationship with Churchill is convincingly drawn as is his rather naive perspective on Stalin. His oddities, such as a leaning towards Vichy France in the early days, are not disguised. FDR's brokering of the debate in the US between those who wanted a frontal assault on Fortress Europe and those who preferred a more cautious approach is described in brilliant detail. The president's refusal to do much constructive about the Holocaust is explained by Davis as caution rather than personal anti-semitism. In retrospect, we can see that FDR's achievement was to transform a recession hit US into the arsenal of democracy. More's the pity we shall not get volume six as the author died in 1999 before he had time to write it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By SWAMP FOX on January 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the first part of this wonderful biography, Davis attempts to go inside FDR's often-elusive personality at the conclusion of the 1940 election, and, amazingly enough, succeeds in giving us a very credible depiction of the inner thoughts of a leader in crisis. Davis then explores Roosevelt's leadership, which often amounted to drift, and what must have been mind-boggling frustration in trying to lead the country, united, into war against Hitler. The mistakes and personal deficiencies of the man are clearly pointed out, including his absurd pro-Vichy policy and animosity for De Gaulle, and his repeated failures in administration, but one is left with a greater understanding of what were perhaps FDR's finest hour and his deepening relationship with Churchill in together saving democracy and destroying one of the two or three worst tyrants of the Century. Neither could have done it alone, and it is hard to see how any other pair could have succeeded as well as they did---certainly not Wendell Wilkie or any other Republican, and not Henry Wallace, despite his considerable talents.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mr Bassil A MARDELLI on October 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
To the layman, FDR's name is associated with Pearl Harbour dilemma and the consequential entry of USA into WWII.
We have read the memoirs of Winston Churchill and seen impassioned appeals (some were even desperate) by the Allied player (France's Reynaud and England's WC) to the American President to interfere. Yet the appeals never effectively addressed the American public opinion.
The French never understood how FDR could be a `leader' in his country and at the same time stood powerless to make decisions.
The French, in the bloody and crowded events that encroached them in first half of 1940, could not fully appreciate the American System.
But the British did.
The public opinion in the USA, during 1939 and 1940, was one that when the allied had an edge in any battle against the Germans `so what, you see anyway they can win without us (USA)' when Germany was winning, the thinking was `Okay, since it's all over we better stay out, there is nothing we can do anymore'.
American public opinion was divided and pacifists regarded the French appeals to `come to their rescue', emotionally hysterical. The French must have known how far was FDR bound by the congressional limits that formulated USA foreign policies.
FDR could not have possibly made his decision apart from the American system, based on personal whims, notably when re-elections were due. FDR was bound to make American voters to see how far he was not missing any opportunity-however small- to prevent an all-out war.
We should remember that before the war FDR had asked the Congress to approve his request for arms embargo to any country in a condition of `aggression' and the Congress refused unless the embargo applied to all countries concerned.
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