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Showing 1-10 of 199 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 291 reviews
on August 30, 2014
I have been telling people about this book ever since I read it. Having been a young, very young, girl, I remember adults talking about FDR and talking as if he was a saint, I didn't make opinions of my own. After reading this book and a number of other books about him I am not of the same mind as people years ago. Anyone interested in history would find this book fascinating. However, I came away with a higher opinion of Winston, then FDR. If you only consider his politics, maybe you will think better of him, but if you throw In his personal life I think he falls short of a man to be admired. The book is a wonderful read and won't disappoint a history buff.
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on March 8, 2015
This book is a wonderful way to learn about the men, their leadership styles, the benefits of an earlier age in communications and the real weight on their shoulders. Anyone who likes to view history via the people centered in a historical period will learn a great deal from this book. The depth of research and having the benefit of other's work on the period, it's players and resultant outcomes also makes it an excellent read.
Discovering letters by people in the room, so to speak, adds a highlight to understanding what was going on between the men, their nations and the world during this period.
I rated it a 5 stars because it became more engrossing over the middle and final appreciation to the Author!
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on April 25, 2013
I found that the author laid a good foundation for understanding interpersonal dynamtics of Churchill and Roosevelt by describing the origin of each man's elvolvement as a person and a politician. Based on these factors, the author then aptly describes the interplay between the two great leaders and their common approach to Nazi Germany and dealing with Joseph Stalin.

I found additional understanding of their challenges as I later read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by Shirer. I found that Meacham's book was enlightening from the standpoint that he gives in his "Portrait of an Epic Friendship" a view of two great human beings mutually supporting each other in the "darkest hour" of modern history. In the processs, the author enables the reader to perceive how great leaders have their vulnerale sides and yet can to rally their countrymen to a miraculous victory over the evil, the Axis Powers.

I was but a young child during World War II. It is now very sobering as an adult to become familar through this book with two icons that I no ability as a child to understand nor their greatness to perceive. Now I understand them so much better as human beings.
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on June 30, 2017
I grew up with the gentlemen in power, and loving history as I do was very interested in their interactions. As much as I have read about each of them I still always learn something new. Great read.
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on July 20, 2014
A well researched work on the personal relationship between these two leaders of nations at a critical time in world history. Mr. Meacham provides a wide assortment of quotes from those who knew them and were witness to their friendship and does a good job of weaving the story around them. Beginning at the very first encounter of Churchill and FDR, long before either achieved their political apex, the story continues through WWII, FDR's untimely demise, and until Churchill's death some two decades later. It's quite a different perspective on two men who undoubtedly affected the course of history and a different look at WWII. It's a nice addition to the library of any student of the era.
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on July 28, 2008
Jon Meacham has woven a beautiful account of these two great characters from a most human and emotional perspective. Meecham doesn't just historically replay events, he gets us inside these two great men and allows us to share in their emotional connections with the war, their families, politics, and each other. Doing this on two men at the same time is a special treat afforded by the voluminous resources available on these particular men and their interaction with each other. The ability to peer into the inner workings of two great minds during the same shared experiences is like having special powers that Franklin and Winston, who were always wondering what each other was thinking, would have enjoyed immensely.

WWII is unquestionably a dramatic current that keeps the pages turning but this book is, as the author clearly states, not an academic history book on the events of WWII or even the historical conferences between Franklin, Winston and later Stalin. This book is about humanity. I found myself shedding tears at the death of Franklin because Meecham exposed the personal sense of loss Winston (and others) felt in a way that even Winston could not convey in tributes to Franklin.

This book wasn't written to expose historical events, historical event collectors will be disappointed. The book exposes historical thoughts and emotions, courage and insecurities, uncertainty and stubbornness, loneliness and the joy of making genuine connections with others. This a different kind of history, one that might seem inherently speculative if it weren't for Meecham's extensive reliance on reliable sources. His references are almost 1/3 the book and are primarily Franklin, Winston, or friends and family that were immediately present and close to subjects. I'm extremely uncomfortable with whimsical author speculation and always felt comfortable with this book.

I came away with little new knowledge about historical events, but a much closer personal understanding of these two men. Well worth the trip.
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on August 10, 2014
Excellent piece of history, extremely well prepared and written. The personal lives and interactions between FDR and Churchill were particularly interesting and , for me, a totally new look at the scene. My only complaint was---perhaps it was a little too close to the bare bones of their lives, including bathroom demeanor and sex lives. Yeah, it's the truth (I guess) but as Agatha Christie used to say, "He (she) gently closed the door..." There were times when I wished the author had done so.
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on March 11, 2009
I've read many biographies of these men and those of some of their aides, and I think this is as good a brief portrait as you get. Churchill the emotional and moody leader and FDR the cold-hearted politician.

I thought Meacham's ending one chapter with a description of FDR's manipulative treatment of Eleanor and thene beginning the next chapter with him doing the same to Churchill was BRILLIANT. FDR played with people as a cat does a mouse. As a result, a lot of folks around him were kind of punch drunk on him - his girlfriend/secretary LeHand who needed pills to stay happy, Eleanor who was thrilled when FDR threw her a crumb, Hopkins who got worn out, etc. Who knows how long Churchill could have lasted in FDR's circle.

The unique figure in FDR's entourage was Gen. George C. Marshall. The only person who insisted that FDR not address him on a first name basis. He is like no one else around FDR and gets some credit here for impeding some of Churchill's more impetuous plans which his generals were reluctant to veto.

The story of FDR encouraging his married son to have a fling with a woman at one of the conferences explains a lot about FDR and why his kids grew up so troubled.

Meacham ably describes the gentle, but steady shift of power in favor of the Western shores of the Atlantic.

His research is much better than Goodwin's in "No Ordinary Time" and, unlike Goodwin, Meacham doesn't pretend to have overheard conversations in which only two people were in the room.

As most people know the general outlay to WWII, this is a good introduction to two of the century's most compelling and important figures. The more you read about FDR, the less you like him, yet you come away feeling sad he and Eleanor never got to take that triumphant trip to London.

First rate.
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on August 31, 2014
Hard to put down. A thoroughly researched account of the partnership/friendship of two of the most powerful men of their time. Both complex, vain, thoroughly political, but motivated by love of country and recognition of the evil of Hitler and the Nazis. Unfortunate Roosevelt didn't have Winston's understanding of Stalin and the communist threat. There, Roosevelt was too clever by half and led to 40+ plus years of the Cold War. Hindsight though is always 20:20.
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on September 10, 2017
An excellent historical account of these two world leaders during WWll.
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