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Wind over Sand: The Diplomacy of Franklin Roosevelt Hardcover – April 1, 1988

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Marks contends that FDR's foreign policy throughout his successive administrations was distinguished by duplicity, indecisiveness and mendacity; that the false hopes he aroused in Japanese leaders during the '30s and early '40s received due recompense at Pearl Harbor; that the Good Neighbor Policy was largely a waste of money; that by the time he died, Roosevelt had acquired "the largest overseas credibility gap of any president on record." Not only does Marks accuse Roosevelt of aristocratic disdain for foreigners of nearly every stripe, he scoffs at the Olympian wartime partnership between FDR and Churchill, arguing that beneath the genial surface lurked "a hard substratum of spitefulness." Readers will find this churlish revisionist view provocative but few will agree with the overall implication that Roosevelt's foreign policy was a disgrace. Marks is the author of Velvet on Iron: The Diplomacy of Theodore Roosevelt.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

From the author of Velvet on Iron, about Theodore Roosevelt's diplomacy, this work examines foreign affairs under FDR. Marks begins with the seldom-covered Hundred Days and ends with an assessment of Roosevelt's prestige as a world leader. Surprisingly, the war years get little attention. Supported by exhaustive research, Marks indicts Roosevelt for lost chances and a "chameleon quality," but fails to present the domestic background. Nonetheless, his book is important, a necessary complement in research libraries to Robert Dallek's Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945 ( LJ 7/79). Robert F. Nardini, N. Chichester, N.H.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 462 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (April 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082030929X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820309293
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,250,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The subtitle of the book, "The Diplomacy of Franklin Roosevelt" is straightforward enough and one might imagine that this very handsomely produced book published in 1988 was simply one more ploughing of a familiar field. And one would be as completely wrong as I was delving into this extraordinary intellectual adventure. This turns out not to be a mere "fresh look" at an old story, but , as the reader will learn just from the concise and compelling 12 page introduction, the first time a historian has actually looked calmly and analytically at all of the evidence as free as possible from political presuppositions. While Marks is always careful not to overstate his case, always honest about the range of possible interpretations, what one discovers midway through the crisply written book is that, as shocking as it may seem, this may well be the first independent and intellectually responsible investigation of Franklin Roosevelt as diplomat on the world stage ever written.

It is not that Marks is on any sort of campaign to discredit or minimize the long line of historians who have come before him--Marks himself took his degree of the University of Michigan under one of the older deans of diplomatic history, and he engages with many of the leading lights in the field--Robert Dallek, William Langer, and others--but instead of arguing for or against other views, he first works like an investigative journalist to review the primary materials and concentrate on what are the real questions that one should be asking of the records? That is, shouldn't we really be trying to determine what Franklin Roosevelt's guiding philosophy in the world of diplomacy really was?
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Format: Hardcover
This book, which has largely received the silent treatment in academia, is what we might call a "revisionist" work, in the sense that it examines Franklin Roosevelt's foreign policy critically and largely without preconceptions. However, it is not "revisionism" in the manner of older authors such as Charles Callan Tansill, who, while upholding scholarly standards, were nevertheless obviously out to "get" Roosevelt. Rather than either a prosecutor's brief of this kind or the much more common hagiography of FDR admirers in the Langer or Schlesinger moulds, Frederick William Marks III presents something as rare as a dispassionate study of an aspect of America's most controversial president since Lincoln. For this alone he deserves the attention and respect of every thoughtful student of 20th-century American history. But "Wind Over Sand" possesses many more virtues in addition to its refreshing objectivity.

What the perceptive reader will immediately note is that Marks has done his homework. His voluminous endnotes span a hundred-some pages, and unlike the case with most newer studies, the great majority of them refer to primary sources rather than some earlier historian's opinions. Our author has made profitable use of British, American and French public and private archives to illuminate Roosevelt's policies; the French documents, especially, offer up one startling revelation after another, even on topics far removed from France herself. (For just one hint, several of the crucial missing pieces in the puzzle of US-Japanese relations in the 1930s are found in reports from the French embassy in Tokyo.
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Format: Paperback
FDR generally gets a great ride in history on the strength of his social programs and wartime leadership. But hagiography must some day end for all. Marks' book argues that American diplomacy during the Roosevelt administrations was characterized by inconsistency, naivete, and ineffectuality.

Marks' book is a fine balance to popular views of FDR. Some might write of biased, selective presentation of facts. However, Marks makes available 113 pages of notes and sources for 288 pages of text. His sources includes minutes from meetings at Yalta and Tehran, presidential correspondence, etc. They make for fascinating reading into FDR's mindset and that of Churchill and others. One can read, for example, the notes from meeting with Stalin and Churchill wherein FDR explicitly states that his only interest in the "Polish question" is how it affects the US electorate for the 1944 elections. Based? Out of context? Don't we wish.

Marks covers seven major topics: the "first hundred days", dealings with Japan, managing the war and diplomacy with his allies, ties with Latin America, an FDR's status as a world leader. Very illuminating, well-researched, and quite persuasive. Anyone wishing to argue positively about FDR's accomplishments in diplomacy will have an arduous task.

One critic has spoken of Mark's non-inclusion of Bretton Woods as a failing in this book, since it thereby disincludes one element of wartime planning which most regard as successful. It is true that he does not cover it. However, Marks' focus is diplomacy, not economics. And since economics was clearly not FDR's signal strength, this is perhaps to Roosevelt's advantage.

I give this four stars, not five only because I too would have liked to see subjects such as Bretton Woods included. But what is here is stongly researched and illuminating: much to learn about FDR, 1930s US media and culture, and the strange alliances which develop in war.
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