The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler

Overview


The Hopkins Touch offers the first portrait in over two decades of the most powerful man in Roosevelt's administration.

David Roll shows how Harry Hopkins, an Iowa-born social worker who had been an integral part of the New Deal's implementation, became the linchpin in FDR's--and America's--relationships with Churchill and Stalin, and spoke with an authority second only to the president's. Gaunt, nearly spectral, and malnourished following an operation to remove part of his ...

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Overview


The Hopkins Touch offers the first portrait in over two decades of the most powerful man in Roosevelt's administration.

David Roll shows how Harry Hopkins, an Iowa-born social worker who had been an integral part of the New Deal's implementation, became the linchpin in FDR's--and America's--relationships with Churchill and Stalin, and spoke with an authority second only to the president's. Gaunt, nearly spectral, and malnourished following an operation to remove part of his stomach, the newly widowed Hopkins accepted the president's invitation to move into the White House in 1940 and remained Roosevelt's closest advisor, speechwriter, sounding board, and friend nearly to the end. Between 1940 and 1945, with incomparable skill and indefatigable determination, Hopkins organized the Lend-Lease program and steered the president to prepare the public for war with Germany. He became FDR's problem-solver and fixer, helping to smooth over crises, such as when the British refused to allow an invasion of Europe in 1943, enraging Stalin, who felt that the Soviet Union was carrying the military effort against the Nazis. Lacking an official title or a clear executive branch portfolio, Hopkins could take the political risks his boss could not, and proved crucial to maintaining personal relations among the Big Three. Beloved by some--such as Churchill, who believed that Hopkins "always went to the root of the matter"--and trusted by most--including the paranoid Stalin--there were nevertheless those who resented the influence of "the White House Rasputin."

Based on newly available sources, The Hopkins Touch is an absorbing, substantial new work that offers a fresh perspective on the World War II era and the Allied leaders, through the life of the man who kept them on point until the war was won.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Roll makes the case in this lively book that Harry Hopkins was “arguably the most powerful presidential aide in the history of the American republic.” Even if not, Hopkins surely acted as Franklin Roosevelt’s alter ego, intimate, and sounding board for all of WWII. An emollient presence admired by both Churchill and Stalin, this frail and sickly man brought a natural prudence and impeccably balanced judgment to the advice he offered FDR and the duties he performed for him. Unjustifiably feared by those who didn’t really know him as a kind of Rasputin to the president, as Roll makes clear, Hopkins was instead implementer of others’ decisions as much as the source of ideas and advice. The author can’t seem to make up his mind whether he’s writing a biography, often overdetailed, of Hopkins during the war years—when he actually lived much of the time in the White House—or trying to illuminate, using interviews and freshly opened documents, the sources of WWII policy making. But there’s no doubt that Roll, in his debut book, has added to WWII history by illuminating Hopkins’s “indispensable behind-the-scenes role.” 32 b&w illus. Agent: Kirsten Neuhaus, Kirsten Neuhaus Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Library Journal
America's best presidents have shared the knack of attracting talent to their administrations. This was surely the case with FDR's selection of Harry Hopkins as his closest adviser. Though Hopkins and FDR were from different social classes and areas of the country, they were alike in other ways, especially in their apparent decisions to live life to the fullest despite poor health, by self-actualizing through the political arena—one as president and the other as almost a shadow president. To some extent this book is an update of Robert Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History (1948), but attorney Roll (Louis Johnson and the Arming of America), whose book is half the length, seems to share his subject's ability to cut to the chase. The bulk of his book deals with Hopkins's time in the White House, where he became FDR's closest confidant during World War II, serving as de facto secretary of state and national security adviser. VERDICT This delightful book—a genuine page turner—portrays the relationship between FDR and Hopkins in a balanced manner while maintaining the reader's interest with insights into the important players of World War II. Scholars and general readers interested in the era will thoroughly enjoy it. An essential purchase.—William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
Kirkus Reviews
Examination of Franklin Roosevelt adviser Harry Hopkins (1890–1946) and his largely behind-the-scenes role in the outcome of World War II. Iowa-native Hopkins rose through the ranks of public service during the 1920s to become one of the architects of FDR's New Deal programs. A bureaucratic genius with serious health problems, he was a controversial figure in his day. He once harbored presidential ambitions of his own, but his lasting influence, argues Roll (co-author: Louis Johnson and the Arming of America: The Roosevelt and Truman Years, 2005), is due to his diplomatic efforts on FDR's behalf with the key members of the Allied coalition to defeat the Nazis. The author writes in a clear, concise style and is able to keep the narrative moving briskly through policy discussions and squabbles among politicians, diplomats and military leaders. The "touch" referred to in the title is the same quality of personality that enabled Hopkins to form relationships with not only Roosevelt and Churchill, but also Stalin and other officials (Churchill dubbed him "Lord Root of the Matter"). Hopkins' unique relationship with FDR has been covered before, most famously in fellow aide Robert Sherwood's 1948 Pulitzer Prize–winning Roosevelt and Hopkins. While conceding his debt to Sherwood, Roll makes use of copious material that was not available at that time, including documents from the former Soviet archives, to present a fuller portrait. The storyline that emerges is that of all-too-human men—often petulant, stubborn, wrongheaded or too easily manipulated—making decisions that would affect the course of world history. A compelling portrait of a World War II hero whose victories took place far from the battlefield.
From the Publisher

"Displaying a strong grasp of the intervening half-century of historical scholarship, delivering a strong and clear-eyed appraisal of Hopkins's personal life, and demonstrating considerable narrative talents."--Wall Street Journal

"The Hopkins Touch is the best biography of a crucial figure at pivotal moment in American history since Robert E. Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1948 classic, Roosevelt and Hopkins."--Steven Casey, author of Cautious Crusade: Franklin D. Roosevelt, American Public Opinion and the War against Nazi Germany, 1941-1945

"Harry Hopkins was FDR's left-hand man. He helped the maestro direct the American-British-Russian alliance that won World War II. David Roll shows just how he did it, this quiet deal-maker Churchill called 'Lord Root of the Matter.' The Hopkins Touch deserves its place aside Robert Sherwood's Roosevelt and Hopkins and Jon Meacham's Franklin and Winston." --Chris Matthews, host of "Hardball with Chris Matthews" on MSNBC

"It is refreshing to read an account of a time when commitment to the national interest, personal depth in history, vision, loyalty and discretion were the watchwords. Such is the portrait of Harry Hopkins, Franklin Roosevelt's closest confidante and trusted surrogate, drawn by David Roll in this absorbing update of Robert Sherwood's defining work. Drawing on material never before available, Roll revisits Hopkins roots, his intimate relationship with the president, how deeply he was revered by Prime Minister Churchill, and trusted by Joseph Stalin--all in one of the best researched, and well-written biographical works I've ever read. The Hopkins Touch deserves a place in the American political history stacks of every library in America--and also on your night stand."--Robert (Bud) McFarlane, National Security Adviser to Ronald Reagan

"Mr. Roll's use of previously unavailable materials enables him to present a far more comprehensive story. It's a must-read for anyone interested in the period. A truly magisterial biography."-- The Washington Times

"David Roll has captured the essence of one of the most important non-governmental figures in American history. Crisply written, meticulously researched, The Hopkins Touch is a pleasure to read."--Jean Edward Smith, author of FDR, and Eisenhower in War and Peace

"A masterful portrait of one of the most fascinating political figures this country has ever produced. David Roll has vividly captured the infinite complexities and extraordinary influence of FDR aide Harry Hopkins -- part playboy, part reformer-- whose peerless diplomatic efforts in World War II helped cement the Anglo-American alliance and pave the way for the Allies' victory."--Lynne Olson, author of Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in its Finest, Darkest Hour

"That FDR created the world in which we live is a commonplace; as David Roll demonstrates in this highly readable book it was a world created by FDR and Harry Hopkins. The material on Hopkins' maneuvering the U.S. to the North African invasion in the fall of 1942 is by itself imaginative and persuasive. I wish that I'd had Roll's book at my elbow when I was writing about those years."--Warren Kimball, editor of Churchill and Roosevelt, the Complete Correspondence

"If Franklin D. Roosevelt had an alter ego, it was the brilliant and cunning Harry Hopkins. David Roll does a marvelous job of documenting the heroic importance of Hopkins during the Second World War. Hopkins emerges as one of America's indispensable patriots. This is a surefooted and brilliantly researched biography that deserves a wide readership."
--Douglas Brinkley, author of Cronkite and The Wilderness Warrior

"Sharply observed, gracefully written, David Roll's portrait of FDR's closest adviser offers us an intimate look at the wise, brave, and humane exercise of power. If only other presidents were blessed with advisers like Harry Hopkins!"--Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Struggle to Save the World

"In 1940, Britain stood alone; it's survival in doubt. As the US edged closer to war, Harry Hopkins became FDR's confidant on geopolitical issues. In creating the 'grand alliance' his role was crucial. In this splendid, well-researched biography, David Roll has portrayed the decisive actions taken by this 'grey eminence.'" --James Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense to Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford

"In this important new book, David Roll brings Hopkins out of the shadows and casts a bright and unblinking light on the central--even essential--role that Harry Hopkins played in forging and maintaining the alliance that won the Second World War."--Craig L. Symonds, author of The Battle of Midway

"This delightful book-a genuine page turner-portrays the relationship between FDR and Hopkins in a balanced manner while maintaining the reader's interest with insights into the important players of World War II. Scholars and general readers interested in the era will thoroughly enjoy it. An essential purchase."-- Library Journal

"A compelling portrait of a World War II hero whose victories took place far from the battlefield." -- Kirkus

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199891955
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/4/2013
  • Pages: 520
  • Sales rank: 418,940
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

David Roll is the founder of Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, a public interest organization that provides pro bono legal services to social entrepreneurs around the world. He was awarded the Purpose Prize Fellowship by Civic Ventures in 2009. He lives with his wife Nancy and their dog Thatcher in Washington, DC and Glen Arbor, Michigan.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: A Room Upstairs Chapter 1: Ambitious Reformer Chapter 2: Asks for Nothing Except to Serve Chapter 3: They are Sowing the Wind Chapter 4: Even to the End Chapter 5: First Glimpse of Dawn Chapter 6: Vodka Has Authority Chapter 7: At Last We Have Gotten Together Chapter 8: We Are All In the Same Boat Now Chapter 9: Some Sort of a Front this Summer Chapter 10: Harry's Invaluable Aid Chapter 11: Striking Back Chapter 12: Casablanca: A Pretty Feeble Effort Chapter 13: Trident: A Mollifying Influence Chapter 14: Quadrant: Churchill Converted?
Chapter 15: Tehran: Lining Up with the Russians Chapter 16: A Soldier's Debt Chapter 17: From Malta to Yalta Chapter 18: A Leave of Absence From Death Chapter 19: We Do Well to Salute his Memory Acknowledgements Notes Bibliography

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