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Roosevelt's Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War Hardcover – January 16, 2012

3.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Winner of the 2013 Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

Honorable Mention for the 2012 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in U.S. History, Association of American Publishers

"The premise that 'the Cold War was not inevitable' launches this penetrating, personality-focused exploration of its WWII roots and the late 20th century conflict whose aftershocks are still being felt today. Costigliola (Awkward Dominion) is deft in his characterization of the Big Three: Churchill--boyish, flamboyant, and thrilled by armed conflict; Stalin--a piercingly intelligent former seminarian capable of merciless brutality for the sake of a cause; and FDR--the fulcrum, a blue-blooded trickster willing both to humor Churchill's nude effusiveness as a guest in the White House and win at Yalta the honest admiration of the insecure Stalin. With all the trappings of a dramatic HBO series (sex, intrigue, hierarchy, and global and historical resonance) Costigliola dutifully traces the reasons Roosevelt's vision of three (or four) world policemen committed to global stability failed to win out in the post-war near-term."--Publishers Weekly

"Even with 60 years of writing on the Cold War's origins behind us, Roosevelt's Lost Alliances can boast of a novel thesis."--Jordan Michael Smith, BostonGlobe.com

"This well-written work, based on extensive use of the private papers, personal correspondence, and published memoirs of the major participants, provides an interesting perspective on the wartime alliance and the origins of the Cold War, guaranteed to spark discussion."--Choice

"In Roosevelt's Lost Alliances Costigliola deploys a finely tuned methodology to produce a learned and satisfying histoire totale of the inner workings of the Big Three wartime alliance and the reasons for its demise. He re-examines familiar material in the light of new questions and draws on previously ignored or under-utilized sources, of which the ones by women are especially important."--Michaela Hoenicke Moore, H-Diplo

"As an exercise in wedge revisionism, Costigliola advances a powerful viewpoint, albeit one he might have couched with more shading and less certitude."--Newark Star-Ledger

"This book offers a provocative psychological thesis on leadership and diplomacy that contributes to understanding the origins of the Cold War. It will appeal to scholars and general readers interested in the transition of the Allies from World War II to the Cold War. Highly recommended."--Library Journal (starred review)

"Every so often appears a new publication that demonstrates the complexities of the historian's craft and reminds professionals that their scholarly pursuits--no matter how evenhanded, rational, or seemingly definitive--must ultimately land somewhere between art and science. So is the case with Frank Costigliola's engaging and thought-provoking new study of 'personal politics.'"--Steven M. George, 49th Parallel

"Among its many contributions, Costigliola's impressive book reminds us that the emotional truths of the earlier Cold Warriors' positions will be forever undermined by the costs and scars of the conflict they helped to set in motion."--Hannah Gurman, American Historical Review

"Costigliola's rich and incisive analysis will vastly deepen our understanding of the imponderables surrounding the perhaps most crucial phase of the twentieth century."--Klaus Schwabe, Diplomatic History

"Costigliola's is a brave thesis, premised upon many years of fine scholarship, that will enrich our understanding of this crucial period of history. It will provoke much debate and deserves to be widely read."--Alan P. Dobson, Historian

"Roosevelt's Lost Alliances is an important and well-written book. Not because it recounts familiar events, but because it is able to examine the main figures from a new perspective and, by doing so, can demonstrate how important personal views, cultural differences, and mutual misunderstanding were in the onset of the Cold War."--Eszterházy Károly College, Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies

"Costigliola's insistence on exploring the private, human sides of public policy yields dividends. Utilising a wide range of new or underexploited archives, he brings out the personalities of the wartime Big Three."--David Reynolds, Diplomacy & Statecraft

"Costigliola seeks to render a new, more Roosevelt-friendly judgment. Even those historians who will doubtless quibble with, or challenge, his conclusions will still find an enormous amount to enjoy and to stimulate them in this important book."--Steven Casey, War in History

"This is a great read of war and politics at the very pinnacle of the Allied leadership pyramid that is both educational and surprising, engagingly crafted and well presented."--Blaine Taylor, Military Advisor

From the Back Cover

"This is a delightful and innovative book. Never before has any book on U.S. foreign relations provided such insightful character sketches. Scholars have long pondered why the best and the brightest went wrong, and now Costigliola offers an explanation: superpower tensions involved more than just misperceptions, divergent ideologies, and grand strategic differences. Personal rivalries, efforts to be in FDR's good graces, parties, and sex of all sort really had a bearing on diplomacy. Costigliola has written a novel masterpiece."--Thomas W. Zeiler, University of Colorado at Boulder

"Costigliola pulls back the veil on the personal lives of the major figures of World War II. With great verve and captivating anecdotes, he shows how personal politics helped forge and disrupt international alliances. Roosevelt's Lost Alliances combines innovative research, provocative interpretations, and page-turning prose, providing a fresh take on how gender, emotion, class, and culture shaped the high politics of World War II and the Cold War."--Emily S. Rosenberg, University of California, Irvine

"In this imaginative examination of the personal dynamics of the Big Three alliance during World War II, Frank Costigliola brings an important new and intriguing perspective to the origins of the Cold War."--Ronald Steel, author of Walter Lippmann and the American Century

"This is a terrific book. Fluidly written, cogently argued, and supported by superb research, it addresses a fundamental yet underexamined dimension of both the World War II Grand Alliance and the origins of the Cold War: the personalities as well as the personal relations of Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt."--Richard H. Immerman, Temple University

"Costigliola has written an important and compelling book. His character portrayals of the three great wartime leaders are among the most incisive that have ever been written. He shows how critical Roosevelt was to the functioning of the alliance and how central his demise was to the origins of the Cold War. Roosevelt's Lost Alliances is a fantastically well researched, wonderfully evocative, stimulating, and significant book."--Melvyn P. Leffler, University of Virginia

"A fascinating new history of a past we thought we knew very well already. Roosevelt's Lost Alliances represents a major intervention in the scholarship on World War II and the origins of the Cold War."--Tim Borstelmann, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Edition edition (January 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069112129X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691121291
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,252,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is on a subject that has attracted attention ever since World War II ended: the World War II alliance and the origins of the Cold War. The author does a marvelous job analyzing how culture and emotion (as well as ideology) shaped perceptions of opportunity and vulnerability, of power and fear. Costigliola's character portrayals are fascinating. He captures detail in ways that are both evocative and provocative. His careful reading of letters, diary entries, and memoranda is not only illuminating, but sometimes riveting.

Roosevelt emerges as the central character of Costigliola's analysis. Roosevelt kept the coalition together, remained the center of Churchill's attention, and inspired Stalin's affection, and perhaps even trust (although that might overstate the case). FDR's death in April 1945 was a decisive blow to wartime relations because Truman simply did not have the knowledge, experience, or personal habits and disposition to sustain what Roosevelt had accomplished during the war.

In the middle chapters of the book, Costigliola also dissects the values, habits, ideas, and policies of key Soviet, British, and American advisers -- career diplomats, military officers, and personal aides to the three wartime leaders. He shows how tradition, culture, values, experience, and beliefs shaped their outlooks and policy preferences. American diplomats, for example, expected openness and loved their initial experiences in Moscow (in 1933 and 1934) when the U.S. embassy was filled with excitement, entertainment, and sexual promiscuity. Subsequently, they deeply resented their personal isolation.
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Format: Hardcover
In this superb book, Frank Costigliola addresses a fundamental yet underexamined dimension of both the World War II Grand Alliance and the origins of the Cold War: the personalities as well as the personal relations of the "Big Three" protagonists, Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt. Of course there have been countless studies of Big Three diplomacy. Historians, including popular historians and scholars, have at most peripherally assessed what he refers to as "personal politics" (and instinctive politicians such as Dwight Eisenhower labeled as the "personal equation") as a causal factor, or a chief causal factor. What adds to intellectual heft of this study, and its value, is the concomitant examination of the deterioration of the Grand Alliance once the linchpin, FDR (and his circle), has been removed and replaced by Truman (and his circle, such as it was--see below). Thus it provides a different lens through which to view the origins and in fact the evolution of the cold war.
By personal politics Costigliola goes beyond the conventional "personality and politics" framework associated with political psychology to incorporate emotions (affect), cultural influences, sympathies and empathies, ideological predispositions, and more. Put another way, he embeds the personal in the cultural. As a consequence, Costigliola provides a first and second image synthesis that historians will welcome enthusiastically. Further, the presentation is so attractive and intelligible that it will be enjoyed by a wide readership, including those not intimately familiar with the story. Because the research is so extensive, the notes may intimate some--and will the length. They should not be deterred, or deceived. The writing is fluid,, engaging, and even suspenseful--altogether a terrific and informative read.
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Format: Hardcover
Frank Costigliola is one of the leading historians of U.S. foreign relations in the twentieth century, as well as a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. In this deeply researched and finely written new book, he makes a most persuasive case for the importance of personal politics for the onset of the Cold War. Readers will find new insights into Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Josef Stalin, George Kennan, and a host of other key figures in the transition from World War II to the Cold War. Costigliola takes us inside the minds and hearts of people we already thought we knew, and shows us a great deal that we did not know. This is exciting, first-rate history from a most distinguished historian.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On May 31, 1967, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., among the most eminent American historians of his generation, author of quintessential American Cold War document, The Vital Center, advisor to presidents, convened an "off-the-record seminar" with two elderly grey eminences who had been "present at the creation" of the American national security state: John J. McCloy and W. Averell Harriman. Schlesinger asked Harriman: "When do you think Stalin became irrational?" Harriman did not answer directly, responding instead that Stalin "was the ablest man that I've ever known."

Taken aback, Schlesinger pressed: "Even abler than Churchill, even than Roosevelt?" "Yes. Very definitely." The questioner tried again: When did Stalin begin "to lose--to go around mad"? Harriman explained that although the dictator's mental stability had indeed failed, that slippage had occurred only a few years before his death in 1953 . . . Undaunted, Schlesinger a few months later published in Foreign Affairs a widely read essay blaming the Cold War principally on "the intransigence of Leninist ideology, the sinister dynamics of a totalitarian society, and the madness of Stalin" (Costigliola, p. 9).

The madness of foreign rulers has an ancient pedigree. It was a favorite trope of Suetonius, whose mad emperors entertain us to this day. Aside from Caligula and his fellows, the ancients associated madness with barbarism and were particularly pleased to join the two in the figure of the mad oriental monarch: Xerxes lashing the Hellespont and the like. The cruelty of orientals was proverbial and particularly potent--if that is the word--when associated with women or men who engaged in sexual activities associated with women.
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