25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Insightful Study
This is a study of Franklin D. Roosevelt's leadership as president between the years 1940-1945. The author is certainly a scholar on President Roosevelt and this study is choke full of information that makes this an extremely informative, but for me, a bit of a slow read. Burns' thesis is that Roosevelt was both the idealist and the realist. His often lofty goals and...
Published on July 8, 2007 by David Montgomery
3.0 out of 5 stars Roosevelt,The Soldier of Freedom
the portrayal of Pres.Roosevelt was veyt weak and the scenes with the king and Queen of England didn't appear realistic.
Published 1 month ago by leonard stone
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Insightful Study,
For some who might want to know more about the actual military engagements in Europe and the Pacific, you might be a bit disappointed. This book is more concerned with strategies developed by Roosevelt and other leaders for both fronts, where priority should be given, how the alliance worked together and so forth. Roosevelt's respect for public opinion was certainly a major factor for his early hesitancy to rush to the aid of Great Britain. Indeed, Roosevelt was seemingly always guided by popular opinion, though I think he probably was ahead of it in ways.
Some of the interesting facets of this book that helped shed some insight for me on Roosevelt's foreign policy was his belief that China had to be a major player in the postwar world, even though he perhaps overestimated China's military capabilities under Chiang Kai-shek. His understanding of the importance of trying to keep good relations with Russia came through as well. His anti-colonialism was often used to tweak Churchill, though as Burns stated, Roosevelt would never go too far in the risk of jeopardizing allied partnership. In these cases, especially with Russia and Great Britain, we see many instances where Roosevelt would often suppress some of his loftier goals for the postwar world for practical, short term success.
The chapters that I thought were the best were the ones that dealt with the meetings between Churchill and Roosevelt and later between the Big Three at Tehran and Yalta. The chapter entitled Dominion of Mars was also well written and powerful, as was the last chapter. The worries, the tensions, the importance of the times all came through to me in this book. The personality traits of Roosevelt were also illuminated, though as Burns mentioned, he was a complex character and very hard to truly understand.
Burns also proves himself to be a very balanced historian, detailing the things Roosevelt knew how to do and what he did right along with those things he did not excel in. Some have questioned his commitment to Civil Rights for blacks, many have castigated the Japanese-American internment camps, his efforts on helping the Jews, his dealings with Stalin and so forth. I think these and other questions are fair criticisms and let's face it, no man when dealing with so many difficult questions and situations will come off clean on all points. There can be no doubt that Franklin Roosevelt was a giant in American politics and that perhaps he was indeed the right man for the job at such a critical juncture in world history.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Companion: War Administration,
This review is from: Roosevelt: Soldier of Freedom (Hardcover)This is Mr. Burns' companion volume to his Lion and the Fox (check that out). This focuses on FDR's WWII War Administration: policies, attitudes, hopes and worldly goals.
FDR's dedication to the well-being of the United States in WWII is evidenced by the fact that to start with, he didn't want a third term in office come 1940. Indeed, such aspirations were frowned upon in the political community. It did not stop him; as he saw it, it was his duty and obligation to the American people to keep familiar leadership in time of international turmoil. Other obstacles: struggles to arm allies, constant planning and meeting with allied leaders, and gradual, failing health. Burns also shows FDR's political savvy, using the utilization for war to the nation's advantage. Many unemployed workers were put back to work, which helped shift American industry into an overdrive that didn't stop for decades. Vision: as a disciple of Woodrow Wilson, he had a vision of a United Nations. One that he did not live to see.
For anyone reading about FDR, or World War II, this companion volume on his war administration is a must for anyone's collection, as it has become in mine.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Written but Not as Detailed as Robert Dallek's book on FDR Foreign Policy during WW II,
This review is from: Roosevelt : The Soldier of Freedom (Hardcover)This book was a best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize. It is a good book and is easy to read. I learned more about FDR during the World War II years from Robert Dallek's book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it,
Throughout his presidency, a disconnect existed between Roosevelt's high-minded rhetoric and his behind-the-scenes use of Realpolitik. Roosevelt's strong speeches outlined bold, idealistic war aims, but he suffered from indecision behind the scenes, which delayed the United States' commitment before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt's indecision and his vague policy preferences were due to stiff political opposition from isolationist voters at home. The draft-extension bill, for example, survived by only one vote and limited other moves to escalate the war effort.
The attack on Pearl Harbor unified the nation and brought Roosevelt's strategy into focus. Roosevelt unified command between services and nations Joint Chiefs, Atlantic Charter, Declaration of United Nations. He established the War Production Board to coordinate economic mobilization and procurement. A handful of agencies were created to coordinate labor mobilization, weapons development, long range strategic planning, and a host of other wartime concerns.
Still, Roosevelt did not abandon his informal, pragmatic approach to the executive office. At one point, Burns noted Roosevelt's "reliance on talented individuals, not orderly administration" (p. 343). Roosevelt was a hands-on president and he resisted any administrative structures that would reduce his presidential authority. Throughout the crisis of war, Roosevelt was directly involved in all the nuances of war planning, and he got the best out of people by fostering competition and disregarding conventions. The book does a good job of capturing the close working relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill throughout the war. Drawing on both men's correspondence, Burns shows how the two men resolved their differences and forged a unified military throughout the war.
Wars are won on the battlefield, but they require the unification of political support, moral backing, and military capabilities. Roosevelt's leadership promoted the Atlantic Charter and led the Allies to pursue `Unconditional Surrender,' of the Axis powers. Other objectives, such as Jewish security in Europe, domestic civil rights, and relations with Russia, were hampered by the pursuit of total military victory. Roosevelt provided a moral backing for the Allied effort, but he pursued pragmatic, realistic policies to achieve his idealistic ends.
Roosevelt, like all great politicians, formed policies that mirrored public opinion. When the nation was divided, Roosevelt's statements and strategies were cautious and non-committal. Once the US was attacked, isolationist sentiment disappeared and Roosevelt assumed a more decisive leadership role. Burns shows how Roosevelt's personal leadership may have led to inefficiencies and lost opportunities, but it ultimately guided the United States to a decisive military victory. Burns' conclusions follow logically from the incredible detail in his analysis, details that come from well-respected sources. Burns' account of the war is an accessible, comprehensive, and well organized book that gives a favorable impression of Roosevelt's administration during the trying times of World War II.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Political Biography,
This review is from: Roosevelt: Soldier of Freedom 1940-1945 (Paperback)This is a well-written history of Roosevelt in power from 1940 to his death in 1945. Burns captures well the events and feelings of the times. His descriptions of war-torn Europe and Asia plus the different characters and their roles is very good. The relations of Roosevelt to the power players of the era - Churchill, Stalin, Chiang Kai-Shek are excellent. There are depictions of the historical events in Normandy, Stalingrad which are succinct but well-crafted.
He does give us the ambivalence of Roosevelt - who was the best actor of that epoch. Roosevelt would be constantly probing to see how far he could go without jeopardizing his popularity in the U.S. If he would have declared war prior to Pearl Harbour all would have been lost. It may have been justified, but Roosevelt knew how to manage and balance the "right thing" with his hold on power.
But Burns gives us little of the personal Roosevelt. There is little on his relationship with those closest to him - like Eleanor, his mother or his children. Even his relationship with those in his government - Harry Hopkins, Francis Perkins is barely mentioned. Roosevelt was a very communicative human being - he loved gossip and wanted to know what made people tick.
Burns is excellent on the political side of Roosevelt, but the personal side is ignored.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Completion of the Story,
Like the first volume, it is a readable study of a master of the political process. Beginning in the autumn of 1940, it tells the story of FDR's skillful guidance of the country down the road leading to involvement in World War II. Going through the building of an internationalist coalition in Congress and the passage of the Lend-Lease and Selective Service bills, the latter which passed by one vote, the reader come to appreciate the tight rope which FDR had to negotiate in order to prepare his generation for its greatest rendezvous with destiny. Amidst those challenges, Roosevelt devised a strategy with which to guide the U.S. through the choppy seas that he saw ahead. Many think of America's involvement as beginning with Pearl Harbor, but this book outlines the beginning of the war with the naval involvement in the North Atlantic which brought the U.S. closer and closer to active combat.
The attack on Pearl Harbor brought a new challenge to this soldier who's adhered to the "Europe First" principle. Domestic political and naval pressure was brought to bear to take the war to Japan, which had attacked us, rather than Germany, which was seen as Britain's foe. With determination, FDR balanced the resource demands of the three theatres, Europe, the Pacific and China, while focusing on the defeat of Germany.
The USSR's constant distrust of the Western Allies complicated the issues of where to take the offensive. It was Roosevelt who insisted on Operation Torch, the landings in North Africa, in order to show good faith in establishing a second front to draw pressure off of Russia and to get U.S. troops entangled with Germany so as to weaken the clamor for Japan First.
Burns takes the reader into the major conferences at Casablanca, Cairo, Teheran and Yalta. He presents the positions of each of the major participants, so that this book provides insights into Churchill and Stalin as well as Roosevelt.
As 1944 began, while not deviating from "Dr. Win the War", Roosevelt began to look forward to a world at peace. He looked both at the domestic scene, with a view of a "Second Bill of Rights", really a New, New Deal, and a United Nations organization with which he strove to complete the work of his hero, Woodrow Wilson.
As the War wound to completion, so the life of this soldier gradually flickered and went out. While documenting the deterioration in FDR's health, Burns also points out favorable reports of those who did meet him when his health and enthusiasm were high.
This book, in conjunction with "The Lion and the Fox" gives the reader an excellent whole life biography of this most significant Twentieth Century leader.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WWII US Political Leaders' Influence & Personalities,
This review is from: Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom: 1940-1945 (Kindle Edition)A great read on the civilian and political leaders of WWII. We who read military history need to ensure we read about the civilian and political leaders and their decision making, concerns, and personalities as it is "them" who sent us to war. In current history it is them that do not have end strategies and define the missions clearly for our military. Roosevelt and Churchill had a clearly defined strategy and mission for our military in WWII and how the war would end. Unconditional surrender, Atlantic first - Pacific second. The relationships are described with all the egos of the WWII leaders to reach the decisions that decided the war's outcome.
This book was an insight into the civilian decision making and the interaction of the players. If you want to read one book on the civilian leaders and decisions of WWII, this is the book. For me as a conservative retired Marine, it as a side, also gave me an insightin the progressive movement beginning.
We were very lucky nation to have a strong leader like Roosevelt as our war time Commander in Chief during WWII.
Semper Fi - Lest We Forget.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars roosevelt: the soldier of freedom,
This review is from: Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom: 1940-1945 (Kindle Edition)Well written, most complete explanation of our entry into WW2 and the complicated relationships among Churchill, FDr, and Stalin. Almost reads like a novel.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read,
This review is from: Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom: 1940-1945 (Kindle Edition)This book gives more information about who did what and what went on during WWII than was contained in any school history books of the '40s, '50s and 60s.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Very The Best WWII-Roosevelt Histories,
This review is from: Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom: 1940-1945 (Kindle Edition)This is the first book that really helped me understand the complex problem of WWII as it came to an isolationist USA, and the even more complex personality of Franklin Roosevelt. When you've finished reading you will feel like you actually met this man. A great read.
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Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom: 1940-1945 by James MacGregor Burns