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One Christmas in Washington Hardcover – November 3, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Hardcover (November 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585674036
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585674039
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,273,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Describing Winston Churchill's stay with FDR from December 1941 to January 1942, historians Bercuson and Herwig resemble Jon Meacham (Franklin and Winston, 2003) in their redolence of period detail. To be sure, grand strategy in a world war grounds their recounting, but its emphasis on interpersonal relations, its fly-on-the-wall perspective, proclaim this work to be a decidedly popular treatment of an important summit meeting. Thus FDR mixes cocktails for his British guest, who squelches his distaste for the American martini in the interest of inter-Allied harmony. However ebullient the two leaders were, their military and naval chiefs were highly antagonistic. The authors explain how the agendas they broached over the conference table, and the ensuing disputes over where armies were to be sent, were, in reality, about which would be the dominant ally. Working in the itinerary of Churchill's visit, and the sybaritic comforts he always demanded in his conveyances and hostelries, be it the White House or a Pompano Beach mansion, these historians successfully capture the atmosphere and substance of forging the alliance. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


'riveting account of a momentous time in world history.' DAILY EXPRESS --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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The book is well researched and readable.
Richard C. Geschke
Roosevelt had to be very careful to avoid giving the American people the impression that their boys were going overseas to rescue the British Empire.
Mike B
For anyone who is into WWII history, this makes a very good read.
S. Winsor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
With the opening words, "Christmas Eve 1941 broke cloudy and rainy in Washington, D.C. Since the dastardly Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor seventeen days earlier.....," readers became privy to, no, almost a party to the momentous meeting between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. It lasted only ten days, but those were days that gave birth to the Grand Alliance and paved the way to victory in war some four years later.

History has well recorded the results of this conference, which went by the code name ARCADIA, yet readers will be fascinated by the intimate details of those days in the White House as unearthed by Bercuson and Herwig through diaries, meeting notes, letters and minutes.

We're reminded that a meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill might be subtitled "The clash of the titans." Both were world leaders with healthy egos and wary of one another, yet they worked together to hammer out this agreement despite the posturing of other officials in attendance and a less than warm relationship between Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt.

It will come as scant surprise to most that Churchill could be a challenging house guest. We hear, "The White House was a changed place with Churchill in residence. Simply put, he turned it into the staff headquarters of the British Empire." Opinions of him among the White House staff were divided. Mrs. Nesbitt, reputedly the worst cook in White House history, had done little to please FDR. However, she took great pleasure and pains to serve special meals during Churchill's visit determining that their guest had a "poor-colored and hungry" appearance.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mike B on December 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A nicely written book that captures momentous events of over 60 years ago. The atmosphere of the meetings are brought out well. The authors do a good job of presenting the other participants besides the two primary leaders - Churchill and Roosevelt. There was Beaverbrook, Marshall, Hopkins and of course Eleanor - all offering their opinions and having a hidden agenda. For example Eleanor was dead-set on continuing the `New Deal' policies.

A subtitle to this book could have been `How to get your new partner to enter the war'. The American side is initially confused and disorganized at the start of these meetings. Towards the end of the meetings in January General Marshall sets a stronger organizational or management style platform for future operations. The structure is set for war production and allocation and for increasing the size of the merchant fleet. Transportation was required to bring all these supplies across the treacherous Atlantic to England and North Africa to bring the Americans directly into the war. The Americans knew in the long run that they would be providing most of the materiel and troops, so they began to take a more aggressive role to set-up the structure that met their requirements. The results of this conference, called `Arcadia', set the pattern for Anglo-American cooperation for the rest of the war.

Churchill may not have succeeded in getting all he wanted - he was hoping for a bigger role for British planning and direction; but he did succeed in his overall aim which was to apply the main focus on the destruction of Nazi Germany first ( Japan being secondary). Although Churchill is eloquent and flamboyant, Roosevelt is seen as having a greater world vision.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. M Young VINE VOICE on September 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Perhaps I misread the description of this book. I found the Churchill visit and the negotiations interesting, but from the descriptions I had read of the volume I was expecting not only a narrative about the goings-on in Washington, but stories about how ordinary people reacted to the declaration of war, how the city and country changed, etc.

I feel I must comment about one thing I found very disconcerting: apparently no one proofread or spellchecked this manuscript. I saw numerous, jarring typos and several places where words were left out, so that I had to reread the sentence several times to try to make out what was being said. Very sloppy in such a heavily researched and scholarly book; did they rush it to the publisher in order to meet a deadline?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gregory G. Caiazzo on March 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A wonderfully written, engaging narrative of a crucial time in the 20th century when a lack of unity and focus could have been the downfall of western democracy. You can't help but be drawn in by the personalities and events that shaped the management of the WW II. From the bombastic personality of Prime Minister Churchill to a president who was trying to feel his way into leadership of a waring nation, deals, power plays and compromise are drawn. Two dynamic staffs of political and military leaders work through issues, lines of authority and battlefields to be fought on. This comes with a backdrop of the first Christmas in Washington DC after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The chill of the winter air is certainly balanced by the heated discussions in and out of the White House.

Even if you are not a WW II history afficianado, you can't help but appreciate this book.
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