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The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941-1945 Paperback – Bargain Price, September 30, 2003

3.5 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews

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Long before an Allied victory was assured during World War II, the Big Three--Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin--began discussing how to prevent Germany from ever again threatening the world. The fact that Germany today is a peaceful, democratic ally of the U.S. is "one of America's great twentieth-century international achievements," writes esteemed historian Michael Beschloss. How such a transformation was accomplished is the subject of The Conquerors.

Drawing on thousands of previously unreleased documents, secret audio recordings, private diaries, and other information recently made available, Beschloss details the complex diplomacy between the Allied leaders, including their differences over whether to demand Germany's unconditional surrender; how, if at all, to divide Germany after the war; and how to effectively punish Germany without creating the kind of resentment that led to the rise of Hitler. The relationship between the three leaders, and later, Truman, is fascinating, as Beschloss reveals private conversations, ulterior motives, and numerous back-channel deals that took place. Of particular interest is the maneuvering of Roosevelt and Churchill, who were both concerned that the Soviets would attempt a postwar power grab in Western Europe if given the chance. The book also deals with Roosevelt's reluctance to deal with Germany's systematic extermination of the Jews, and the role that his old friend and Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., played in pushing the President into action. After learning of the Holocaust, Morgenthau became obsessed with punishing Germany severely, drafting a plan that called for the complete destruction of their mines and factories as a way of forcing Germany into subsistence farming--ideas that put him at odds with Secretary of State Cordell Hull, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, and many others in the administration.

The Conquerors is a superbly written, if brief, treatment of the political events leading up to the defeat of Germany, with the main players brought vividly to life by Beschloss's keen eye for detail and his ability to expose the human strengths and weaknesses of the participants. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Beschloss provides an engaging, if not revelatory, narrative of key events leading up to the conferences at Yalta (Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin) and Potsdam (Truman, Churchill, Stalin) and the Allies' decisions about how to prevent future aggression by post-WWII Germany. In his preface, Beschloss makes much of the fact that this study draws on newly released documents from the former Soviet Union, the FBI and private archives. But Beschloss has unearthed nothing to change accepted views of how FDR developed and then began to implement his vision for postwar Germany. The tales Beschloss gathers here are no different from those already told in such books as Eric Larrabee's Commander-in-Chief: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants and Their War (1987) and Henry Morgenthau III's Mostly Morgenthaus: A Family History (1991). With reference to the latter volume, one of Beschloss's major subplots traces Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr.'s efforts to interest FDR in a draconian, retributive plan (the "Morgenthau Plan") to destroy what little might remain of Germany's infrastructure after the war. Wisely, FDR demurred. Although breaking no new ground, this book by noted presidential historian Beschloss (who has published a trilogy on Lyndon Johnson's White House tapes) will fill the bill for those who need a readable account of how American officials and their Allied counterparts came to draw the map of postwar Europe. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743244540
  • ASIN: B003E7EU3O
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,538,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P Magnum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
World War II has been one of the most popular subjects in book publishing in the last few years. But much of those books like Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation series and the late Stephen Ambrose's books focused on the average foot soldier's experiences. Presidential historian Michael Beschloss' The Conquerors looks at the men at the highest ranking of power, most notably Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mr. Beschloss is an obvious devotee to FDR and he considers him the most important world leader of the 20th century, but the book is even-handed in its assessment of FDR's handling of the war and post war Germany. Most notable is FDR's take on the Holocaust and his Treasury secretary Henry Morgenthau's efforts to convince FDR to take a more active role in stopping the concentration camps. The fact that FDR was reflecting the views of day toward Judaism is not an excuse in Mr. Beschloss' mind for his passive attitude towards dealing with that most harrowing of situations. Though much of the subject matter has been recounted in far too many other books to note, Mr. Beschloss' writing style is more entertaining than most. While he deals with high-minded subject matter, he presents it in an intelligent, yet ease to digest manner.
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Format: Hardcover
I first heard about this book when I read an excerpt from it it Newsweek Magazine in October. The excerpt's big story was that Franklin D. Roosevelt was asked to bomb Auschwitz and other death camps to stop the Holocaust and refused -- almost without thinking about it. I have read many books about this and never knew that he made that decision himself. The book reports why Roosevelt said he would not bomb.
When I bought this book, I could not stop reading it. This book shows a whole new view of how World War 2 was fought against Germany -- why Roosevelt made Stalin and Churchill go for unconditional surrender, even though that strategy ended up killing many more British and American soldiers.
This book shows how for most of the war, Roosevelt resisted pleas to do something to try to save Jewish refugees and stop the killing of the Jews. I heard the author on TV or radio saying that Roosevelt said that the U.S. is a Protestant country and that the Catholics and Jews were only here because they were tolerated. There is a lot of that in the book, as well as Roosevelt saying that if there was a U.S. demagogue who went against the Jews, more blood would flow through New York City's streets than Berlin.
The book also shows how sick FDR was at the end of the war, even forgetting that he had signed certain documents and then asserting that he had not signed them. The book says that when Roosevelt died, he was planning to quit being President and give the job to Harry Truman and then become secretary of the U.N.
It also shows Roosevelt's antipathy toward the Germans, saying that they all should be castrated at the end of the war or that 50 or 100 thousand German officers should be murdered at the end of World War II.
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Format: Hardcover
A subject which is not so commonly explored in the history of WWII is the struggle to decide the future of Germany in order to avoid yet another war. This is thr subject of historian Michael Beschloss's latest work. The title is a little misleading in that it does not focus solely or even primarily on Roosevelt and Truman. Rather Beschloss, in a manner similar to David Halberstam and Stephen Ambrose takes a narrative, expositional and non-scholarly linear approach to the subject. One character who plays a major role in this book is Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt's Jewish Treasury secretary. Sickened by what he learns of German atrocities, Morgenthau is convinved to promote a plan that calls for Germany to be turned into a series of agricultural cantons with all its industry destroyed. Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Secretary of War Henry Stimson are opposed to the plan and work to undermine it. Roosevelt is seen as an increasingly distant figure. His method of playing one aid off another while keeping his true thoughts to himself ultimately undermines his successor Truman, who upon taking office knows nothing of Roosevelt's thinking and is forced to improvise, Churchill is reduced to irrelevance, his ideas largely ignored by FDR. I do not fully agree with Beschloss's thesis. As far as I can see, no comprehensive plan for the fate of Germany was ever agreed upon. During the earlier years of the war, through June 1944, Roosevelt was overly concerned with keeping Stalin happy for important reasons. He was afraid Stalin would make a separate peace with Hitler. He failed to foresee the break down of the alliance and the need to check the Soviets. As it turned out, none of the plans worked out as well as the reality.Read more ›
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By Kazem on November 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Beschloss is at the top of his game. For the first time, the book shows that Roosvelt- not some underling- refused to bomb Auschwitz and the other death camps to save the Jews From Hitler. The role of Henry Morgenthau, in trying to get Roosvelt to make the war against Hitler broader while still trying to get a total surrender from Germany, is very engaging.
Very Best history book I've read in years.
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