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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two lions roaring at the same time...., January 15, 2004
This review is from: Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship (Hardcover)
Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill are two of the most influential men of the 20th Century, and Jon Meacham's Franklin and Winston is a commendable effort. How the friendship between these two men evolved is a fascinating read. Theirs was a friendship forged from the war, and Churchill cultivated the relationship knowing that help from the US was the only way to defeat Nazi Germany. All relationships have their ups and downs, and Churchill and Roosevelt were no exception. Franklin's treatment toward Winston was downright shabby when they started dealing with Joseph Stalin. Still, in their many fact-to-face meetings, they were able to do much together including tracking the progress of the war, coordinating allied activities and especially, cutting through red tape when it came to equipment and supplies.
There have been other books written about these two giants, but Meacham had the advantage of some newly discovered letters in the FDR library, as well as personal interviews with Mary Soames (Churchill's daughter), Pamela Harriman (Churchill's ex-daughter-in-law), and Robert Hopkins (son of FDR aide and cabinet member, Harry Hopkins).
Churchill was a man who wore his emotions for all to see. It was obvious that he loved and revered FDR and was crushed by his sudden death. On the other hand, FDR could be a very cold and unemotional man. He was also a man who used people, and then wrote them off when they were no longer of use to him. We are left to wonder how their friendship would have survived after the end of the war if FDR had lived--especially after Churchill's defeat as Prime Minister only months after the war ended. The changing world scene may have also served to shift the balance of their friendship. Before WWII, the United States and England were two dominant world powers. After the war, China and the Soviet Union replaced the British Empire as a major force. I wonder if FDR would have treated Churchill in a diminished capacity as the fortunes of the British Empire waned.
I especially enjoyed the many stories and anecdotes about these two men. Churchill, especially, can best be described as a character! He was a heavy handed drinker and a demanding guest. He loved to stay up late and seemed to do his best work after midnight. Winston didn't like American whiskey or Roosevelt's nightly cocktails. Both men had strong, intelligent wives, although Eleanor and Clementine didn't particularly like each other. While Clementine couldn't keep up with Eleanor, Franklin had a difficult time matching Winston's energy and stamina.
All in all, Meacham has provided us with a very good sketch about two great men.
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Cynthia K. Robertson
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Location: beverly, new jersey USA

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