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Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (1940-1945) by [Burns, James MacGregor]
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Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (1940-1945) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Incisively and vividly written . . . Burns’s best book.” —LIFE
 
“[A] book of broad scope that never shirks the complexities and difficult judgments on Roosevelt’s conduct of office . . .” —The New York Times
 

About the Author

James MacGregor Burns (b. 1918) is a bestselling American historian and political scientist whose work has earned both the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. Born in Boston, Burns fell in love with politics and history at an early age. He earned his BA at Williams College, where he returned to teach history and political science after obtaining his PhD at Harvard and serving in World War II. Burns’s two-volume biography of Franklin Roosevelt is considered the definitive examination of the politician’s rise to power, and his groundbreaking writing on the subject of political leadership has influenced scholars for decades. He currently serves as the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Government Emeritus at Williams College and as Distinguished Leadership Scholar at the University of Maryland.

Product Details

  • File Size: 4996 KB
  • Print Length: 594 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (May 8, 2012)
  • Publication Date: May 8, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007GSU1CQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,349 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Montgomery on July 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a study of Franklin D. Roosevelt's leadership as president between the years 1940-1945. The author is certainly a scholar on President Roosevelt and this study is choke full of information that makes this an extremely informative, but for me, a bit of a slow read. Burns' thesis is that Roosevelt was both the idealist and the realist. His often lofty goals and dreams could often be compromised for the more pragmatic (some might say perfidious) decisions reached. It is indeed a dichotomy that shows throughout this study. But despite this lack of cohesion between an effectual joining of these two traits, Roosevelt's wartime leadership is still heralded by most historians.

For some who might want to know more about the actual military engagements in Europe and the Pacific, you might be a bit disappointed. This book is more concerned with strategies developed by Roosevelt and other leaders for both fronts, where priority should be given, how the alliance worked together and so forth. Roosevelt's respect for public opinion was certainly a major factor for his early hesitancy to rush to the aid of Great Britain. Indeed, Roosevelt was seemingly always guided by popular opinion, though I think he probably was ahead of it in ways.

Some of the interesting facets of this book that helped shed some insight for me on Roosevelt's foreign policy was his belief that China had to be a major player in the postwar world, even though he perhaps overestimated China's military capabilities under Chiang Kai-shek. His understanding of the importance of trying to keep good relations with Russia came through as well. His anti-colonialism was often used to tweak Churchill, though as Burns stated, Roosevelt would never go too far in the risk of jeopardizing allied partnership.
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Format: Hardcover
This is Mr. Burns' companion volume to his Lion and the Fox (check that out). This focuses on FDR's WWII War Administration: policies, attitudes, hopes and worldly goals.
FDR's dedication to the well-being of the United States in WWII is evidenced by the fact that to start with, he didn't want a third term in office come 1940. Indeed, such aspirations were frowned upon in the political community. It did not stop him; as he saw it, it was his duty and obligation to the American people to keep familiar leadership in time of international turmoil. Other obstacles: struggles to arm allies, constant planning and meeting with allied leaders, and gradual, failing health. Burns also shows FDR's political savvy, using the utilization for war to the nation's advantage. Many unemployed workers were put back to work, which helped shift American industry into an overdrive that didn't stop for decades. Vision: as a disciple of Woodrow Wilson, he had a vision of a United Nations. One that he did not live to see.
For anyone reading about FDR, or World War II, this companion volume on his war administration is a must for anyone's collection, as it has become in mine.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Burn's biography of President Roosevelt is a broad historical review of America's role in World War II, with a special focus on the American president. Burns has established himself as an academic authority on the Roosevelt presidency, and his biographies on Roosevelt have won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Relying primarily on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and other collections and archives, Burns effectively illustrates the myriad of responsibilities facing the President of the United States during the war. Beyond broad strategy goals, Roosevelt was tasked with providing political victories, promoting morale, shaping economic policy during mobilization, controlling inflation and planning for the post-war world. Throughout the war, conflicts erupted between military planners and politicians, management and labor, and all the various Allied leaders. Roosevelt's flexible, informal style frustrated Marshall and Eisenhower, but it ultimately proved to be an asset in addressing the countless problems facing the Commander in Chief.

Throughout his presidency, a disconnect existed between Roosevelt's high-minded rhetoric and his behind-the-scenes use of Realpolitik. Roosevelt's strong speeches outlined bold, idealistic war aims, but he suffered from indecision behind the scenes, which delayed the United States' commitment before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt's indecision and his vague policy preferences were due to stiff political opposition from isolationist voters at home. The draft-extension bill, for example, survived by only one vote and limited other moves to escalate the war effort.

The attack on Pearl Harbor unified the nation and brought Roosevelt's strategy into focus.
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Format: Paperback
This is a well-written history of Roosevelt in power from 1940 to his death in 1945. Burns captures well the events and feelings of the times. His descriptions of war-torn Europe and Asia plus the different characters and their roles is very good. The relations of Roosevelt to the power players of the era - Churchill, Stalin, Chiang Kai-Shek are excellent. There are depictions of the historical events in Normandy, Stalingrad which are succinct but well-crafted.

He does give us the ambivalence of Roosevelt - who was the best actor of that epoch. Roosevelt would be constantly probing to see how far he could go without jeopardizing his popularity in the U.S. If he would have declared war prior to Pearl Harbour all would have been lost. It may have been justified, but Roosevelt knew how to manage and balance the "right thing" with his hold on power.

But Burns gives us little of the personal Roosevelt. There is little on his relationship with those closest to him - like Eleanor, his mother or his children. Even his relationship with those in his government - Harry Hopkins, Francis Perkins is barely mentioned. Roosevelt was a very communicative human being - he loved gossip and wanted to know what made people tick.

Burns is excellent on the political side of Roosevelt, but the personal side is ignored.
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