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Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945: With a New Afterword (Oxford Paperbacks) 2nd Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195097320
ISBN-10: 0195097327
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  • Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945: With a New Afterword (Oxford Paperbacks)
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"A dazzling narrative...elegant...history on the grandest scale, embracing a world-wide cast of characters and all the continents....All the heroes and villains of the day before yesterday are alive again in these pages--particularly Churchill, Stalin, DeGaulle, and Chiang."--New York Times Book Review


"A book that will become a landmark in its field, indispensable to scholars and critical to our understanding of American foreign policy."--The New Republic


From the Back Cover

Robert Dallek vigorously and convincingly defends Roosevelts's foreign policy. He emphasizes how Roosevelt operated as a master politician in maintaining a national consensus for his foreign policy throughout his presidency and how he brilliantly achieved his policy and military goals.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2nd edition (May 25, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195097327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195097320
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.7 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #684,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Gregory Canellis on March 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
In one volume, Robert Dallek has attempted to counter the vast amount of printed material covering Franklin D. Roosevelt's domestic policies during the 1930's and 1940's. The result is a mammoth effort that sheds light on the enormous pressures Roosevelt faced both at home and abroad during the turbulent decades when the world struggled to emerge from the shambles of a Great Depression, and prepare itself for a global conflict. Dallek argues that most historians do not fully understand the nature of Roosevelt's foreign policy. Dallek also claims that researchers tend to focus on FDR's shortcomings without emphasizing the constraints with which he was forced to work. Dallek's main purpose is to highlight the continual dilemmas Roosevelt faced in an effort to always strive for balance and compromise between public opinion and foreign affairs. FDR realized the need to break the country away from isolationism and place it in the global arena, both economically and politically, while at the same time facing the growing threat from the Axis powers. Though Dallek is noted as a gifted narrator, it is Roosevelt's leadership style,criticized as somewhat unorthodox,and the many quandaries in which he prevailed that provides the strength of Dallek's book. Dallek chose a ridged chronological format, which he maintained throughout the book. The chronological methodology in essential to enable the reader to understand the patterns that emerged within Roosevelt's style of leadership. For instance, rather than try to sway public opinion as to why the United States should supply aid to its allies or begin preparing for war, Roosevelt instead would allow the events then taking shape in Europe and Asia to speak for themselves to convince the American public.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition
I agree with much of the criticism of this book. It does read like a hagiography of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Many will not share Dallek's highly "liberal" interpretation of Roosevelt as a great wartime leader (undoubtedly he was a great domestic leader). Roosevelt's seemingly boundless idealism blinded him to a number of realities during the war which led to additional suffering of millions. First was his sugar-coated understanding of the Soviet regime under Stalin. In this context, Lend Lease should never have been extended to the Soviets. Doing so almost certainly prolonged the war in the West (after Normandy, the Allies literally rand out of gas) and almost certainly was the decisive factor in the Soviets advancing as far West as they did and first into Eastern Europe. Then of course there was Roosevelt;'s ridiculous and moralistic "Unconditional Surrender," which arguably prolonged the war (with Germany at least) by up to a year. Due to this misguided policy - with which Churchill strongly disagreed - resistance groups in Germany had nowhere to turn and were easy prey for the Nazis. Then there was the obvious neglect to act on pretty clear (and early) intelligence concerning the occurrence of actual genocide (not yet termed Holocaust). If only the rail lines had been targeted for bombing instead of the city centers, countless lives could have been saved. This still remains to be explained. And of course then there was the decision to let de-Gaulle lead the march first into Paris, the disastrous Yalta Agreement. etc. etc. Dallek's book does a poor job of analyzing and explaining all of these. The book is still worth browsing for historical background and a chronological recounting of US wartime foreign policy, but should not be relied upon to explain the very controversial dimensions of Roosevelt's wartime policies.
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Format: Paperback
An excellent account of U.S. foreign policy as waged by the Great Man Roosevelt. There are details in this book which are not found in others. Dallek is not regurgitating other writer's viewpoints. All points are lucidly explained - for instance Roosevelt's dealing's with Chaing Kai-shek and his cabinet member's - Cordell Hull, Sumner Welles...

The enormous opposition Roosevelt faced from isolationists is discussed at length. No one can doubt after reading this how short-sighted these people were in relation to the futuristic Roosevelt. Roosevelt was the rare politician who could project into the future. His vision was not just the short-term but the long view. In 1941 he triggered the second version of the United Nations during his meeting with Churchill off of Newfoundland. He was giving the world - like Nazi occupied Europe - an alternate and much more benevolent view.

The only omission I found was the Royal visit of the King and Queen of England to Washington and Hyde Park in the summer of 1939 - just prior to the outbreak of war. At the time this was another attempt by Roosevelt to bring Americans closer and more sympathetic to the building conflict in Europe.
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Format: Paperback
I completely endorse the review of Greg Goebel who rated this book a 4 star. His review is below. I have some additional thoughts. They are:

The book focuses on foreign policy and military decisions in Europe, Russia, and China. Why did the author, Robert Dallek, not discuss any decisions FDR made to America's military campaign in the Pacific?

I was surprised that FDR made so many military decisions. He was very wise and knowledgeable about European matters.

Professor Dallek had a tremendous number of notes for this book. He is a true professional historian.

Review by Greg Goebel

"The title of Robert Dallek's FDR & AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY actually describes this book very neatly: it's a comprehensive overview of all US foreign policy during the Roosevelt II Administration -- not just US policy relative to the emerging Axis powers, but also to Latin America and elsewhere.

As the title also might suggest, this is basically a scholarly book, not really suitable for readers who haven't obtained a general idea of the broad sweep of American international politics in the era. It's for readers who want to get the nitty-gritty on the matter and it can even be a bit of a slog for them. As scholarly books go, however, it is not extremely long nor particularly dry; but it's not a book for casual reading, either."
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