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Roosevelt's Centurions: FDR and the Commanders He Led to Victory in World War II Hardcover – May 28, 2013
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“When I was a boy growing up in the South Bronx, my heroes were Roosevelt’s centurions. As a soldier for thirty-five years, I made them my mentors and models. These men were heroes. They were fallible and occasionally vain, but we were certainly blessed to have such Americans leading the Greatest Generation during the world’s greatest conflict. Of course, the greatest centurion of them all was FDR himself, who knew how to lead his commanders, stroke their egos, and get the best from them, yet never left any doubt as to who was commander in chief. Joe Persico, my valued collaborator on my memoirs, has brought his formidable talents to bear to bring the centurions to life. He is at the top of his game in this defining classic.”—Colin L. Powell, General, U.S. Army (Retired)
“Benefiting from his years of studying Franklin Roosevelt and his times, Joseph Persico has brought us a briskly paced story with much wisdom and new insights on FDR, his military liege men, World War II, and political and military leadership.”—Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789–1989
“Long wars demand long books, but these are 550 pages of lively prose by a good writer who knows his subject. . . . A fine, straightforward politics-and-great-men history.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Persico makes a persuasive case that FDR was clearly in charge of the most important decisions of the American war plan.”—The Washington Times
“Joseph E. Persico has done it again! Roosevelt’s Centurions is a riveting, analytic recounting of FDR as top World War II strategist. Nobody before has written on Roosevelt as talent scout with the brilliant insight of Persico. I found Persico’s elucidation of the FDR—George Marshall relationship marvelous. A grand book for the ages!”—Douglas Brinkley, author of Cronkite
“With rigorous research, a fine eye for detail, and an entertaining ability to recount history, Joe Perisco deftly portrays the men behind the man, in addition to skillfully presenting the star himself, FDR, as recruiter in chief. A must-read for Americans concerned about war leadership then and now.”—Evan Thomas, author of Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World
“To a remarkable degree, we inhabit a world originated by Franklin D. Roosevelt—on World War II battlefields; in the gilded halls of diplomacy; above all, inside FDR's fertile, inscrutable imagination. Joe Persico brings all this to life with stunning originality, insight, and narrative drive. Familiar names—Marshall, Patton, Eisenhower, Churchill—are here rescued from caricature. So are the strategic and political decisions that inform today’s debate over civil liberties in wartime. The last word on Roosevelt’s war, it’s safe to say, will never be written. But it’s hard to imagine anyone writing any better words than these.”—Richard Norton Smith, author of The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick 1880–1955
“[Persico] is a polished storyteller and offers new insight into the tumultuous years of Roosevelt’s last two terms.”—The Denver Post
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The author's shakiest ground is Guadalcanal. Page 321, he says "King directed Nimitz, in whose sector Guadalcanal lay, to prepare for the invasion." True on the face of it, but Guadalcanal started in MacArthur's section of the Pacific, and the reasons for shifting it to Nimitz merit being included in a book on the commanders of the war. On page 431, he says "5,775 of the 60,000 U.S. Marines and soldiers engaged were killed or wounded" at Guadalcanal. Notably missing in his wording are any Navy losses. Hornfischer, in "Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal" gives the total dead as 5,041 navy sailors and 1,592 Marines and Army soldiers, totaling 6,633. Navy deaths at Guadalcanal were 75% of the total.
Page 581, the author mentions the six battleships with 16-inch guns present at Normandy. All the 16-inch battleships were in the Pacific. The ships at Normandy had 14-inch guns.
On page 637, the author says "The issue of Britain's naval role in the Pacific was left unresolved." On the contrary, it was resolved, with FDR overriding Ernest King. 15 ships of His Majesty's navy were present at the Tokyo surrender, including 2 Royal Navy battleships, and 2 Royal Navy escort carriers.Read more ›
Persico makes a strong case that Roosevelt was in charge as commander in chief, a position he took very seriously. Some recurring examples are the President's siding strategically with Churchill in Africa, Italy, and the Mediterranean at the expense of Normandy and against the advice of his military advisers, most notably George Marshall; how often Roosevelt would allow Stalin to do as he pleased in order to keep the Soviets fighting; how he allowed MacArthur to return to the Philippines despite the Navy's island-hopping strategy; and how his appointment of Hap Arnold to the joint chiefs of staff ensured the Army Air Corp had equal footing with the other branches of service.
Besides the fascinating details of the insider squabbles, the author provides a unique glimpse into the character and personalities of the major figures influencing the war effort: Marshall, Hap Arnold, Churchill, Stalin, Eisenhower, Ernest King, Omar Bradley, Joseph Stillwell, Montgomery, Patton, et al. It is compelling to have such insightful analysis into so many different personalities in one volume, and I highly recommend it to any reader interested in a first-rate biography of Franklin Roosevelt during the war years or WW II historiography in general.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An easily digestible walk thru the war years and a framework for digging deeper into his leadership approach. Read morePublished 7 days ago
Fantastic read. I learned so much not only about FDR but about my heros, Nimitz and Halsey, as well as the machinations of FDR, Churchill and Stalin.Published 20 days ago by Ted Budach
I like this book because of the detail about the US political and military leaders in WWII. In broad view, it reviews their lives and actions in WWII as they work for FDR. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Stephen
My expectation for this book, based upon publicity blurbs and publisher summations was for something along the lines of Doris Kearns Goodwins’ A Team of Rivals. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Steven M. Anthony
This is horrible if I could give a negative rating I would. For starts this has a high focus on totaling irrevelant subject matter that has nothing to do with thesis of the book. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Robert Carrington
Very readable analysis of Roosevelt's selection of generals and war-time strategic decisions, not all of which were necessarily correct. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Robert Rogers