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Roosevelt and Stalin: The Failed Courtship Hardcover – March, 1989

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Early in WW II, President Franklin Roosevelt shared this dangerously naive conviction with Prime Minister Churchill: "If I give Stalin everything I possibly can, and ask nothing in return, noblesse oblige , he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of peace and democracy." Ignoring the advice of ambassadors William Bullitt and Averell Harriman and Soviet experts such as George Kennan, the president acceded to nearly every demand made by the Soviet dictator at the 1943 Teheran summit, remaining firm in his belief that British imperialism posed a greater danger to democracy than the Soviet Union. Nisbet's well-argued thesis is that in his uncritical infatuation with Stalin, FDR acted out essentially the same role played by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1938 at the "appeasement conference" in Munich. Further, Nisbet ( The Idea of Progress ) argues that it was at Teheran rather than at Yalta that Stalin won authorization to subjugate the Baltics, the Balkans and large parts of Poland and Eastern Europe.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Pub (March 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895265583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895265586
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,825,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Earth that Was on July 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert Nisbet is not usually classified as a historian, he is usually placed in the pigeon hole labelled 'sociologist'. This assessment is, of course, unfair as anyone who has surveyed his 'sociological' writings will attest. Nisbet usually manages to survey sociological and political thought, linking the philosophy and biography of his subject, whether it is Rousseau, Tocqueville or Kropotkin, in his works. So Nisbet was always a "historical sociologist" if such a classification exists. This book however is straight history and Nisbet shows his strength both as a writer and historical analyst. Nisbet's writing is always crisp, clear and precise. It doesn't stray and, like most good writing, it makes for quick paced reading.

Nisbet's analysis of Roosevelt's "Failed Courtship" with Joseph Stalin relies on secondary source material, notably the "Complete Correspondence" between Roosevelt and Churchill, edited by Prof Warren Kimball of Rutgers University. He also relies on biographical and memoir material from FDR cabinet members and close advisers. So if there is any 'bias' in the selection of sources, the odds are, if anything, stacked in FDR's favour. Unfortunately for the world the picture that emerges of FDR is not the patriotic portrait or hero of liberal hagiography.

FDR had plenty of advice, not just from Churchill, but his own diplomats and foreign policy experts, Keenan for example, warning him of Stalin's ruthless ambition. FDR chose to ignore advice and advisors who contradicted his own deep seated belief that Stalin and the Soviet leadership generally, were deep down merely fellow progressives like himself.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Efrem Sepulveda on October 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This was one of Robert Nisbet's last books before his death in 1996. It is also significant as it was written just a few short years before the collapse of the Soviet Union, an event which let to showing once and for all the evil that it fostered upon all of the world.

This tight, 110-page book limits its discussion to the courtship that FDR had with Stalin from the entrance of the Americans into the war in early 1942 until FDR's death in 1945. In short, this book showed the unrelieved compromises that FDR offered to Stalin including offering the USSR a third of the Italian fleet, constant replenishment of their country via lend-lease with convoys headed toward Murmansk and the yielding of numerous countries to Stalin's rule that were gain by the USSR in the first place under the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact and sealed at the Teheran Conference much to the frustration of Winston Churchill.

Mr. Nisbet's contended that FDR was blinded by a unrealistic view that democracy could be fostered on the USSR through persuasion, an attempt that was tried by FDR mentor Woodrow Wilson with disastrous results. FDR did not like Great Britain due to his experiences after World War I and thought he could mold the USSR into something that Wilson failed to do with the UK. FDR clearly knew that Russia was the scene of ghastly crimes from 1917 until World War II, but FDR's "faith" in democracy blinded him.

This is a well-written book that is slightly anachronistic due to the USSR's collapse 20 years ago. Nevertheless, it should be noted that such history should deservedly damage the untouchable reputation of Roosevelt.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Warriner on March 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In his dealings with Stalin, FDR had a blind spot. He considered Churchill an imperialist and Stalin a democrat. FDR drove Soviet experts such as George Kennan to distraction with his apologist and sycophantic attitude toward Stalin. FDR preferred the opinions of such pro-Soviet toadies as Joseph Davies, a former ambassador to the Soviet Union. Roosevelt virtually gave away Eastern Europe to Stalin, and we paid a heavy price for his shortsightedness.

Anyone who's seen the film "Mission to Moscow," a first-class piece of pro-Soviet propaganda that came back to haunt Warner Bros. in the post-war world, can see first hand how Davies' apologist views attempted to twist American public opinion. An excellent book that may change how Americans view FDR.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Today we are consumed by the account of Secretary of State, Clinton's deep-sixing of personal emails which were also State Department business. Her burying the record reminds us of an account that Nisbet relates about the FDR administration, how somebody decided to destroy or scatter to the winds an amazing cache of books and monographs in an Office of Eastern European Affairs. Nisbet reasons, quite probably, that much of the information assembled spoke unflatteringly of the Soviet empire and Stalin's dictatorship. How could FDR make Old Joe a Bronx Democrat with such papers lying around. Answer: get rid of the evidence. Nisbet's book details FDR's slumber party in dealing with Stalin. It also names names, good guys and fellow travelers, Hopkins and Davies. Must read.
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