One Christmas in Washington: Churchill and Roosevelt Forge the Grand Alliance

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Christmas in Washington is the fascinating, in-depth look at one of the most crucial periods in modern history: the weeks between December 1941 and January 1942, when Churchill and Roosevelt- seemingly on the run after Dunkirk and Pearl Harbor-met at the White House, forging what turned out to be the Grand Alliance- while in the background, a gloomy and confused America went about their Christmas celebrations.

Herwig and Bercuson grippingly recreate the dramatic days of the ...

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Overview

Christmas in Washington is the fascinating, in-depth look at one of the most crucial periods in modern history: the weeks between December 1941 and January 1942, when Churchill and Roosevelt- seemingly on the run after Dunkirk and Pearl Harbor-met at the White House, forging what turned out to be the Grand Alliance- while in the background, a gloomy and confused America went about their Christmas celebrations.

Herwig and Bercuson grippingly recreate the dramatic days of the Washington War Conference of 1941-1942, code-named ARCADIA, using the diaries, meeting notes, personal letters, and detailed minutes that contain day-by day, almost hour-by-hour accounts of these historic events. The authors-whose previous book The Destruction of the Bismarck was the companion to James Cameron's Discovery Channel special Expedition: Bismarck-take a penetrating look at the high level meetings that lasted long into the night and at the scenes behind the scenes: the social events and intrigues, Churchill's booming intrusion into the daily life of the White House, the strained relationship between Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt, the key role played by Roosevelt's close advisor Harry Hopkins. As with any momentous gathering of world leaders, there was high politics and low gossip, and both contributed to earth-shaking events of this momentous time.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Fighting fascism is hard. Fighting it while arguing who's in charge of the struggle only makes things harder. Multinational military coalitions have been around since the time of the Peloponnesian War, Canadian military historians Bercuson and Herwig write. But WWII imposed requirements of a novel sort on the coalition that formed between Britain and the U.S.; both Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt knew that "Allied victory would demand that their two nations fight virtually as one," and that forging this unity both on the battlefield and in the production of war materiel was essential. Over a ten-day period around Christmas 1941, the two met in Washington to lay the foundations for what Churchill would dub "the grand alliance." Although the two liked each other and shared a highly developed understanding of world politics, their work was complicated by their accompanying retinues, among whose ranks were an American admiral who despised the British and a British air marshal who insisted that American air forces be put under British command. Hammering out logistical details was one problem; Bercuson and Herwig slyly note that supplying Churchill with his vast daily alcohol requirements exhausted the White House booze allowance and required dipping into State Department funds. Determining a workable chain of military command was another; interestingly, we learn, Roosevelt initially recommended that a British general be put in charge of the combined American, British and Dutch forces who made up the first iteration of the Allies. He did so knowing that friction among Commonwealth leaders made an American commander the better choice, information he likely acquired "through Americaninterception and decrypting of British diplomatic radio traffic." Espionage aside, among the highlights of this account is its look at the Allied leaders' timetable for the war, which matched historical events closely in many respects-but also departed from them significantly. Students of WWII, especially of its diplomatic and geopolitical aspects, will want to have a look.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585674039
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2005
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 1.15 (d)

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