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1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History Hardcover – September 22, 2015
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**New York Times Bestseller**
"To understand the 20th century, you need to understand 1944. With his usual great research and storytelling talent, Jay Winik makes that dramatic year come alive."
--Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators and Steve Jobs
"Posing as a book on President Roosevelt in 1944, this extraordinary book is in fact a compelling, comprehensive history of the Second World War told from FDR’s point of view, certainly, but also featuring profound insights into Churchill, Hitler, the ordinary soldiers and civilians, and the monstrous suffering of Europe’s Jews. The width of the canvas is astonishing. 1944 might have been, as Winik calls it, 'The year that changed history', but 1944 is a book that will change history-writing."
--Andrew Roberts, author of Masters and Commander: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945
"A gifted storyteller with a proven talent for finding universal meaning in particular historical moments, Jay Winik has now turned his attention to 1944, an epochal year that shaped the way we live now. With grace and energy, he tells a vital story well, bringing those distant days back to vivid life. This is a terrific read."
--Jon Meacham, author of Franklin and Winston and the Pulitzer-winning American Lion
"Jay Winik is a master storyteller and in 1944 he has a horrifying, mesmerizing story to tell. FDR was a great hero of World War II, but as Winik shows, even the wisest of men can have moral blind spots. With drama, power, and passion, Winik brings to life a magnificent and terrible time."
--Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff and Being Nixon
"Jay Winik is a master of the historical moment. His April 1865 distilled the Civil War and Reconstruction into a few fraught weeks. 1944 fittingly encompasses more time, as his canvas is larger, but it delivers the same insight and impact, in similarly vivid and compelling prose. A wonderful book!"
--H. W. Brands, author of Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"Nimbly toggling between hemispheres, Winik knits familiar WWII headlines with surprising details from leaders' lives. . . . His recounting of concentration-camp logistics is haunting, and the tales of those who tried desperately to stop the mass murder have cinematic force. . . . Winik's vision of an alternate universe--in which an earlier end to Auschwitz creates a world that prizes goodness--is hard to buy yet easy to crave. But . . . there's no reason history can't change the future."
--Lily Rothman, Time
"Compelling. . . . This dramatic account highlights what too often has been glossed over—that as nobly as the Greatest Generation fought under FDR’s command, America could well have done more to thwart Nazi aggression."
--The Boston Globe
"Gripping. . . . Winik tells [the story] well. . . . Haunting."
--New York Times Book Review
“Jay Winik is a master of the annus magnus school of history, in which the past can best be fathomed and told by ferreting out individual seminal years. . . . Winik is an effective storyteller. He expertly weaves together several strands of his narrative. . . . His riveting story of the abject moral indifference to what we now know was good enough evidence of what was going on at such places as Auschwitz and Treblinka makes his indictment all the more powerful.”
About the Author
The author of the #1 and New York Times bestselling April 1865 and the New York Times bestseller The Great Upheaval, Jay Winik is renowned for his creative approaches to history. The Baltimore Sun called him “one of our nation’s leading public historians.” He is a popular public speaker and a frequent television and radio guest. He has been a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal book review section, as well as to The New York Times. His many national media appearances include the Today show, Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and NPR, and he covered both of Obama’s historic inaugurations as a FOX News presidential historian. He is a former board member of the National Endowment for the Humanities and was a historical advisor to National Geographic Networks.
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The book would have been better titled 1944 Europe, why the allies didn't bomb the death camps, for that truly was the central basis of this book. In that regard, this is a very good book, balancing the pros and cons of why the Allies didn't try to bomb the infrastructure of the Holocaust.
But NO ONE should buy this thinking this is a broad-based view of the events of 1944, not given the near zero coverage of what happened in the Pacific.
So, I began the Prelude which meandered through a Churchill-FDR sightseeing excursion in the Cairo outskirts on the way to the Tehran Conference (1943) The next paragraph cut to..."At dusk approached, at air bases in England, some six hundred miles northeast of Berlin...
Wait a minute! On my mental map of Europe, England is NOT NORTHEAST of Berlin, but slightly South and definitely West of Berlin. Yep. The coordinates are London 51.5 degrees North; and 0.12 degrees West; Berlin is 52.5 degrees North; and 13.38 East. Someone didn't bother with that fact checking tidbit.
I've scanned the book, realizing that I'm not going to learn much new from this work. The story seems to be painted with a broad brush and the central theme is the more about FDR's inattention to the Final Solution, than the execution of the War in 1944. I think a good book to read as a balance to this work, would be Nigel Hamilton's Mantle of Command -- wherin notes are copious and the index is detailed.
Winik's book is perfectly suitable for a Public Library collection or a Middle School/High School library. The writing style is highly readable.
The book has a scatter gun approach, attempting in one book to cover much of the war, not just the year 1944. The one recurring discernible thread is the Holocaust, and the feckless Allied response. That topic has been covered in other tomes as well, with the arguments laid out for examination in detail. His accounts of the sadism with which the Germans murdered Jews is harrowing, and a valuable reminder; one can literally feel the author's anguish as he recounts the deaths of millions, especially children, and his rage at the Allies for not doing more. I am of the school that we need to be reminded of those times, and never ever let ourselves forget. The Holocaust and the lethargy, indifference and instituttionalized anti -semitism with which it was met in Allied circles could have been the focus of a book by itself, rather than this scatered, redundant effort.