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Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship Paperback – October 12, 2004


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More from Jon Meacham
As the editor of Newsweek, Jon Meacham has written about war, politics, religion, and race--topics he also examines in his bestselling books. Visit Amazon's Jon Meacham Page.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 490 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (October 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812972821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812972825
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Drawing on interviews with surviving staffers and other previously untapped sources, Newsweek managing editor Meacham delves into the deep and complicated relationship between the two men who may very well have been the most powerful men on the planet during the most threatening times of the 20th century. FDR and Churchill spent much time together (a total of 113 days), planning, eating, smoking and drinking many a cocktail, and Meacham fleshes out the men behind the public faces, revealing the intricacies and the sometimes raw opportunism of their complicated relationship. Veteran actor and audiobook reader Cariou's authoritative presentation is rock solid and gripping. His gravelly baritone is transformed into Roosevelt's calm yet commanding voice one minute, and Churchill's more bombastic British accent the next (though occasionally, his enthusiastic Churchill is reminiscent of the sinister aliens Kang and Kodos from The Simpsons). All in all, he does a wonderful job of capturing not only the friendship between the two men, but also the tensions that build as the world turns to war.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

After their first meeting, in 1918, Roosevelt said that Churchill was "a stinker" Churchill didn't even remember Roosevelt. But by their next exchange, in 1939, Churchill was convinced that Britain's future depended on getting Roosevelt to like him. Meacham's engaging account argues that personal bonds between leaders are crucial to international politics. He draws heavily on diaries and letters to describe a complicated courtship and, at times, seems amazed at what Winston is willing to put up with from Franklin. Churchill paints a landscape for the President, sings for him, and agonizes when his notes go unanswered; Roosevelt teases him in front of Stalin, criticizes him to reporters, and eventually breaks his heart with a diverging vision of the postwar world. But Churchill never gives up, and he later recalled, "No lover ever studied the whims of his mistress as I did those of President Roosevelt."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

More About the Author

Jon Meacham is the author, most recently, of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller that has been named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, The Seattle Times, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Meacham received the Pulitzer Prize for American Lion, his bestselling 2008 biography of Andrew Jackson. He is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Franklin and Winston and American Gospel. Executive editor and executive vice president of Random House, Meacham is a contributing editor to Time magazine, a former editor of Newsweek, and has written for The New York Times and The Washington Post, among other publications. He is a regular contributor on Meet the Press, Morning Joe, and Charlie Rose. A Fellow of the Society of American Historians, Meacham serves on the boards of the New-York Historical Society; the Churchill Centre; and of The McCallie School. He is a former trustee and Regent of The University of the South and has served on the vestries of St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and Trinity Church Wall Street. Born in Chattanooga in 1969, Meacham was educated at McCallie and at The University of the South, where he was salutatorian and Phi Beta Kappa. He began his career as a reporter at The Chattanooga Times. He and his wife live with their three children in Nashville and in Sewanee.

Customer Reviews

That aside, this is a very good book and well worth the money.
David W. Nicholas
Jon Meacham's Franklin and Winston is a thouroughly executed book on the nature of the friendship between the two great leaders of the twentieth century.
David Montgomery
For anyone interested in this period of history I would heartily recommend this book.
Thistle 746

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Mark Dirksen on November 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a expert blend of biography and history, striking an admirable balance between the two genres. You really do get much of the best of both worlds here: the intimate views of carefully researched biography, and fresh perspectives on well-known world events (especially the decisions on the timing of D-Day and the meetings of the Big Three.)
It is particularly remarkable in that the personalities and accomplishments of either man, and the overwhelming events they faced, could have swamped the tale in any direction. Indeed, one has to admit that Churchill tends to dominate. But his written and oral volubility naturally had that effect, and since Roosevelt ultimately carried the military trumps, and was the more elusive and interesting character, he more than holds his own.
I especially appreciate Meacham's light-handed, even deployment of his research material. One never feels that he is relying exclusively on one or two sources, or just transcribing his whole notebook. Instead, the depth and shading in the portrayal of each man extends to their primary family and professional relationships as well: Harry Hopkins, Eleanor Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and both Randolph Churchills, are people I now want to know better.
Meacham is going for something deeper and more tender than portraiture, however - a study of friendship, perhaps the least understood human relationship. I had no idea how much time they spent together, and each of their meetings is chronicled day by day for details of their actual interactions, and their real feelings about each other. I think he gets pretty close to truth - a relationship full of humanity, respect, affection, and genuine love, consummated in truly extraordinary circumstances.
All this, and it's a sensible length. Definitive, deeply satisfying, and highly recommended.
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88 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Eric Hobart VINE VOICE on November 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Jon Meacham has tried to go where others have really not gone before - to explore the friendship between President Franklin Roosevelt and his counterpart, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in his new book Franklin and Winston.
Meacham has done a great job of describing, in intimate detail, the relationship between these two men. I consider the book to be a true hybrid between a biography and a history because of the style of writing - intermixing details about the individual (the biography part) with situations in which the person played a role (the historical part). Meacham intertwines these two in remarkable fashion.
This is an important book that truly displays how Roosevelt and Churchill were not only political compadres, but were indeed friends. I greatly enjoyed how Meacham discussed, with such attention to details, those situations in which both men were involved and played a critical role. I also appreciated the way in which Meacham explained how those encounters bolstered the friendship between the men - and why.
Although the friendship was rocky at times, with Roosevelt bowing to political necessity in lieu of being true friends, there is no doubt in my mind, based on Meacham's book, that these two men were so much more than just political heavyweights - they were indeed friends.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By crazyforgems on December 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have read a number of biographies of FDR and Churchill as well as history books on WW II. I thought that I knew everything about both men.
Well, I didn't. It's not that Jon Meacham provides that much new material in this book--though there are some new letters and previously unreleased documents-it's that he molds what has been out there into a fascinating study of the personalities of the two men. I may not have learned new facts about these men but I gained greater insight into not only their friendship but also their marriages, their characters, and their lives from this study. Both men became more fully realized, more human, more alive in this book.
"Franklin and Winston" follows a simple, chronological structure. It begins with a phone call from Roosevelt to Churchill (who was not yet Prime Minister) at the onset of WW II in Europe; it ends for the most part with the death of Roosevelt and Churchill's inability to attend his funeral. In between, yes, you see all the major events of WW II on the European front. But you also see a Churchill trying to woo Roosevelt-and through his efforts, the neediness in his personality, the boy trying to please. You also realize the tremendous feeling that Churchill had for his American forebearers (his mother was American) and the sincere emotion that he was capable of even at the most difficult of times. With Roosevelt, you see the caginess of his personality, the boy who was the center of his parents' universe and now really was the center of the world. You see in greater depth the feeling that he did have for his wife Eleanor, even though he was spending time in his last days with his former love Lucy Rutherford. You see his ability to charm Churchill--and then turn off the charm.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By C. M. Carson on December 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor filled the airwaves while I sewed myself a dirndl skirt in the early winter of 1941. I was six weeks past my fourteenth birthday, and the war that was declared that day would coincide with my high school years, ending with the dropping of the atomic bomb just before I went off to the university.

Franklin Roosevelt was elected to his first term as president about the same time I turned four. For fourteen years he was central to the radio broadcasts, newspaper stories and newsreels that came to us daily.

Beginning with the invasion of Poland in 1939, children were used to being admonished, "Be quiet! We want to hear the news!" Winston Churchill frequently figured in that news.

Reading Meacham's account of the remarkable friendship that grew up between the two leaders of the free and English-speaking world as they struggled with terrible losses of men and materiel and tragic defeats in battle and yet persisted on to win the war, I often could read only a few pages without pausing to wipe away tears and give myself a respite from the overwhelming pathos of their terrible responsibilities.

Nostalgia perhaps intensified my reaction, as old familiar terms like Tobruk, El Alamein, and Lend-Lease reverberated from my past, but surely no one could fail to be moved to tears by the closely personal, first-hand accounts of these two so humanly flawed but historically transcendent men.
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