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Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom Paperback – International Edition, March 15, 2005
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"A sweeping, occasionally sprawling biography...and an engrossing one, thanks to the storytelling and pungency of its judgments." -- Daniel Yergin, Wall Street Journal
"Black... [shows] that FDR is at the origin of our most important political controversies." -- Claremont Review of Books
"Not only the best one-volume life of the 32nd President but the best at any length." -- Publishers Weekly
"One of the best one-volume biographies of Roosevelt yet." -- Historian Alan Brinkley, The New York Times
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Consider the facts(1):He extended,not stopped the Great Depression,(2):serious questions about his culpababity in the Pearl Harbour diasater, (3):his illegal and wildly absurd "Lend/lease giveaway to a toppling Soviet totalitarian goverment,the easy equal of Hilter's Germany (4):lying to the public about the seriousness of his illness,(5):running for a fourth term, which was nothing but pure ego on his part,while keeping Truman largely in the dark about his soon-to-be-assumed role (6):the fact that his administration was filled with commmunist spies sending every document and word to Stalin (like Alger Hiss, Dexter White, etc) yet when congressman Martin Dies tried to warn FDR about the infilration of Soviet spies into his administration, FDR threw him out with the comment "Some of my best friends are communists!" NO DOUBT!(7): His total betrayal of everything we fought for at the Yalta Conference- with Soviet Spy Alger Hiss at his side, which gives him co-responsibilty with Stalin for the Cold War. At Yalta FDR also agreed to return Russian POWS who were considered traitors by Stalin for "allowing" themselves to get captured. All of these thousands of men were tortured and murdered as soon as they arrived home.(8)Sending US troops into the direct face of the heavily fortified Nazis, just to take the pressure of the Soviets(9) Doing everything in his power to get the US into world War II after "Again, again and again..." promising no American boys would die in a European war. (10)Attempting to pack the supreme court when it refused his Communist/Fascist hybrid economic programs......I could go on and on. Roosevelt was without doubt our WORST president. He's the author of the shadow American state we've had from the Wilson-FDR-Socialist Axis from the 20's to the present, instead of the constitutional republic we had from The Revolutionary war to until the constitutional gave way to massive abuse of the Executive Order which continues to today.
More important, and as if to exonerate Roosevelt at all costs, Black incorrectly states that Soviet intentions towards Poland were not obvious until about December 1944 (p. 1029). In actuality, Stalin had already shown, not long after June 1941, that he would take whatever he was allowed to get away with. Almost simultaneously, Stalin was treated to the lack of seriousness of both Churchill and later Roosevelt in the fulfilling of their treaty obligations to Poland, their ever faithful ally. For instance, at no time was Stalin seriously pressured to account for thousands of missing Polish officer POWs (later found murdered as part of the infamous Spring 1940 Katyn Massacre). In fact, Stalin, no less at his weakest position soon after the Nazi German attack, was not even called for transparent mendacity about their fate (�They must have all escaped to China�).
Thus Stalin became progressively emboldened as one act of unilateral appeasement by Churchill and Roosevelt, at Poland�s expense, followed another. By the time the Red Army did re-enter Poland, there was not much left to give away. Occupying Poland and violating the farcical Yalta agreement itself were, for Stalin, just icing on the cake, and not the cake itself. All along, protests and warnings from Polish politicians fell on deaf ears. In addition, their public comments soon became muzzled, at Stalin�s suggestion, in the interests of �Allied unity�. Meanwhile, left-wing presses in the west remained free in their attempts to sway public opinion by means of increasingly venomous slander directed against the Polish government in exile (�reactionary wealthy landowners�, �closet fascists�, etc.).
Black would have his readers believe that the Soviet Union had earned its hegemony over eastern Europe by virtue of the actions and sacrifices of the Red Army. But, if might makes right, then one could just as easily say that Nazi Germany had similarly earned its European-wide empire. Black even attempts to excuse Roosevelt�s policies by representing the subsequent Cold War as a remedy for Yalta, when in reality this was a closing of the barn door long after the horse had been allowed to escape. He cites the harsh history of eastern Europe, implying that past injustices somehow validate newer ones. Lamest of all is Black�s reference to the �brevity� of Yalta�s consequences (45 years), when this had nothing to do with Roosevelt. Ironically, it was the strong Soviet-containing policies of President Ronald Reagan, standing in diametric contrast to the appeasement policies of Churchill and Roosevelt that helped finally end of Soviet rule over Poland.
To further whitewash Yalta and magnify Roosevelt, Conrad Black consistently portrays Poland as a �bad boy� deserving of its fate. He peppers his work with pejorative generalizations of Polish leaders (�stubborn�foolish�unwise�disputatious, etc., etc.). He speaks of prewar Poland being �corrupt� and �viciously anti-Semitic� [Were non-Polish nations all paragons of political virtue, and were they all exemplary paradises for Jews?]. We even hear that Poland was �not very democratic� and that it had �no distinction of self-government.� Obviously, Black does not have a clue about these matters. For his basic information, Poland was one of the leaders in the emergence of democratic forms of government in recent centuries. In fact, the May 3 Polish Constitution, second only to the US Constitution, was also the most democratic one in Europe for its time. Having subsequently lost its independence to imperial European powers, the recently reconstituted Polish state faced stiff challenges unmatched by most other nations. In any event, an imperfect democracy was infinitely preferable to a Soviet-imposed totalitarian Communist state.
Black slips into an even more overt blame-the-victim mentality when he approvingly recounts Churchill�s chiding of Polish leaders� �stubbornness� (p. 919) for not caving in to the giveaway of Poland�s eastern territories to Stalin. This is like telling a raped woman that, had she only been a little more �wise� and not objected so much, her assailant may not have gone ahead with the rape. Furthermore, Black presents the issue of Poland�s eastern border as some kind of political chess game. The Churchill-Roosevelt giveaway of eastern Poland to Stalin�s appetite was, in actuality, apart from a stab in the back of a faithful ally, a blatantly illegal act. The Soviet-Polish Treaty of Riga (1922) had defined Poland�s eastern border with the Soviet Union, and the latter had not the slightest legitimate claim against Polish territory. But Stalin was allowed to get away with resurrecting long-defunct pre-Riga considerations related to the Polish-Soviet frontier, and was even taken seriously when advancing fresh absurdities to rationalize the theft of Polish territory. Black (p. 885) shows his ignorance when he approvingly refers to eastern Poland as �marshland�. In fact, most of it was productive land that had been the domicile of millions of Poles [and non-Poles, many of which long had been culturally and politically identified with Poland, and very few of which, in any case, genuinely wished to be part of the Soviet Union] since prehistoric times. It also contained many centuries-old centers of Polish culture. (Imagine someone urging the US to cede the Boston/New York area without regrets because, after all, it was �forests and hills�). Nor should the betrayal of Poland have ever been linked with Poland�s eventual acquisition of German territory (a form of punitive reparations).
Much, much more could be said about the shallowness of Conrad Black�s thinking, but space limitations prevent it. Suffice it to conclude that the Churchill-Roosevelt double-cross of Poland was and will forever be totally inexcusable.
Our 32th president is to be genuinely admired for two signal accomplishments: his ever-sunny disposition amidst an epic struggle against polio and, of course, his resounding defeat of arch-villain, Adolph Hitler.
However in reading Conrad Black’s fascinating 1134-page biography one develops a palpable dislike for the elitist, waspy snobbishness of President Roosevelt.
Born to considerable privilege in a wealthy family with Cousin Teddy previously elected to the White House, FDR used every possible political maneuver and connection throughout his life to make his way until he finally won the presidency. From that perch he proceeded to institute his own socialistic vision for a complete revamping of contemporary social structures.
FDR’s tenure was not the best model for presidential leadership in our representational republic where the executive is but an employee of the citizens. (President Washington still has no equal in this regard.) Fortunately a subsequent Congress passed the 22nd amendment to our Constitution that limits presidents to a maximum of two terms. Pity Congress didn’t bind other federal elected officials with a similar constrain. God preserve us from elitists eternally in power who feel it’s in their right to tell Americans what we can and cannot do.
Liberty took a hit from which it has not yet recovered during the “reign” of a brilliant but opportunistic Franklin D. Roosevelt.