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Comment: Condition: Excellent condition., Excellent condition dust jacket. Binding: Hardcover. / Publisher: Smithsonian / Pub. Date: 2009-05-01 Attributes: Book, 336 pp / Illustrations: B&W Photographs Stock#: 2066631 (FBA) * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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To Keep the British Isles Afloat: FDR's Men in Churchill's London, 1941 Hardcover – April 21, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In a resolutely popular treatment, Parrish recounts the missions of emissaries whom President Roosevelt dispatched to Britain in early 1941 to assess Winston Churchill’s bibulous habits and Britain’s will and means to resist Nazi Germany. Emphasizing personalities and period detail, such as the experience of transatlantic flight in wartime, Parrish previews central characters Harry Hopkins and W. Averill Harriman via their biographies, Hopkins’ that of gregarious social worker and New Deal executive; Harriman’s of a humorless, hardworking railroad heir yearning to get into politics. FDR’s commission was Harriman’s biggest chance yet, but Hopkins reconnoitered first, in January 1941. Parrish evocatively renders the atmosphere of Hopkins’ inspection, encompassing dinners with Churchill, nights under the Blitz, and railroad journeys to naval bases, and continuing with similar descriptions of Hopkins’ report back to the White House, where he lived at FDR’s invitation. Following up with Harriman’s task of totting up Britain’s military needs and his extramarital affair with Pamela Churchill, Parrish ably dramatizes FDR’s characteristically personalized diplomacy, which eventuated in the Lend-Lease program. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

“Thomas Parrish’s account of Anglo-American relations in 1941 is a carefully researched and deftly written slice of history showing FDR’s hidden hand at work. It is a lesson on the virtues of diplomacy.” (Ted Morgan, author of CHURCHILL)

Parrish’s book brings Hopkins and Harriman vividly to life--each was indeed a character, and the author’s perception of FDR’s thinking is exceptionally sensitive. For historians most useful. For the rest of us a very good read, a page turner for me. (Curtis Roosevelt, author of TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN: Growing Up in the Shadow of my Grandparents, Franklin and Eleanor)

“A vivid portrait of crucial maneuverings in the most crucial yet little-noted of years, Thomas Parrish’s new book…offers a fresh look at how Churchill’s Britain survived while Roosevelt’s America moved ever so slowly toward forming what became the Grand Alliance.” (Jon Meacham, author of FRANKLIN AND WINSTON)

“In an engaging, and authoritative voice, Thomas Parrish vividly depicts Harry Hopkins and Averell Harriman, and delineates their crucial role in saving Great Britain and, thus, America during the early part of World War II. This book shines a new light on Franklin Roosevelt and his partnership with Winston Churchill” (Will Swift, author of THE KENNEDYS AMIDST THE GATHERING STORM)

“Plays a valuable role in highlighting an often overlooked period of the Second World War, after the Battle of Britain but before Pearl Harbor, when President Roosevelt struggled to find and implement a policy of all possible material aid and support short of American military involvement and war. (Alan Packwood, Director, The Churchill Archives Centre)

“Parrish is a skilled writer, adept at conveying an authentic sense of the prevailing atmosphere...1941 is the compelling story here, now illuminated by this account of the successful efforts of two pathfinding American statesmen to help bring the liberal democracies together.” (Fraser Harbutt, Department of History, Emory University, author of The Iron Curtain)

Parrish, the author of several books about World War II, uses Clare Booth to back into his thesis that a sleepy, isolationist America needed to be roused, and that Roosevelt relied on two remarkable men – Hopkins and Harriman – to help sound the alarm and secure aid for Britain. (New York Times Book Review)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061357936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061357930
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,896,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"To Keep the British Isles Afloat" is a page-turner that illuminates a critical moment in WWII history and Anglo-American diplomacy. Parrish provides telling anecdotes about FDR, Churchill, Averell Harriman, and Harry Hopkins. I hadn't known before that the latter two were so charismatic. And hadn't realized that FDR had the perfect temperment for presidency. Parrish's writing style is witty and perceptive. History and biography buffs will especially appreciate his ability to make known history suspenseful.
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Format: Hardcover
Although not a "scholarly" or academic work, this book is certainly not "dumbed-down" for a popular readership (indeed, we are expected to be conversant with such verbiage as "spalpeen"); rather, it seems aimed at the dedicated amateur reader of history, who probably knows something of the FDR-Churchill relationship and the debate over US aid to Britain prior to the American entry into the war, but may know little if anything of the story beneath the story, so to speak. What is all the more remarkable is that the critical diplomatic missions were undertaken "outside the box", at FDR's behest, by two men, colourful individuals both, who were not career diplomats and not under the auspices of the official diplomatic corps.

The book weaves a dual biography of Hopkins & Harriman into the history of the growing US support for Britain during her darkest days, when bombs fell nightly and the threat of invasion loomed. Hopkins emerges here as the more sympathetic character, an all-round decent chap struggling against poor health to accomplish great things, whilst one can only shake one's head at Harriman's nigh-unbelievable resume spanning nearly a century. True, the author does not bother to take Harriman to task for his philandering, which today might have been a headline-screaming, career-wrecking national embarrassment, but which in more genteel times was apparently accepted as the natural habits of high society. Withal, it is Churchill, of whom picturesque anecdotes abound, who frequently steals the show.

The author's prose is mercifully un-academic, and almost has a faintly English flavour, at least in its rhythm and articulation.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A muddled history of FDR's political and material support for England in the early days of World War II. Told from an unrelentingly American perspective, with all heroes (FDR, Churchill, Hopkins and Harriman) always effective, with their acts never questioned.

I do not think there is anything in this short book that any reasonably adept student of the politics of World War II will not have known prior to its reading.

Serious policy analysis soon fades into the background as descriptions of the wartime travels and love life of Averell Harriman take over. I, while setting aside the obvious moral questions, find it was a disgraceful breech of public duty for a high personal envoy of our president to London during a time of war to carry on a sexual affair with a much younger woman who, at the time, was the married daughter-in-law of the British prime minister and a mother. In contrast to my dim view of this episode, the author is exceedingly tolerant of Mr. Harriman's behavior.

(And, yes, I know the couple much later did marry.)
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To Keep the British Isles Afloat: FDR's Men in Churchill's London, 1941
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