Meacham, the managing editor of Newsweek, uses several previously unavailable sources, including the World War II papers of Pamela Churchill Harriman, then married to Churchill's son, Randolph, and he interviewed a number of those still living who spent time in the two men's company. Written with grace and conviction, his portrait of this epic friendship focuses on the elements of character and fortitude that bonded these two leaders together, and ''proves it does matter who is in power at critical points.''
With its keen, nuanced analysis and sympathetic insight, Meacham's book makes for intense and compelling reading. His achievement is memorable, even considering the innate drama of his topic. His heroes are charismatic giants, paladins in a titanic struggle between good and evil, and masters of the English language and the theatric moment.
After their first meeting, in 1918, Roosevelt said that Churchill was “a stinker”; Churchill didn’t even remember Roosevelt. But by their next exchange, in 1939, Churchill was convinced that Britain’s future depended on getting Roosevelt to like him. Meacham’s engaging account argues that personal bonds between leaders are crucial to international politics. He draws heavily on diaries and letters to describe a complicated courtship and, at times, seems amazed at what Winston is willing to put up with from Franklin. Churchill paints a landscape for the President, sings for him, and agonizes when his notes go unanswered; Roosevelt teases him in front of Stalin, criticizes him to reporters, and eventually breaks his heart with a diverging vision of the postwar world. But Churchill never gives up, and he later recalled, “No lover ever studied the whims of his mistress as I did those of President Roosevelt.”
Drawing on interviews with surviving staffers and other previously untapped sources, Newsweek managing editor Meacham delves into the deep and complicated relationship between the two men who may very well have been the most powerful men on the planet during the most threatening times of the 20th century. FDR and Churchill spent much time together (a total of 113 days), planning, eating, smoking and drinking many a cocktail, and Meacham fleshes out the men behind the public faces, revealing the intricacies and the sometimes raw opportunism of their complicated relationship. Veteran actor and audiobook reader Cariou's authoritative presentation is rock solid and gripping. His gravelly baritone is transformed into Roosevelt's calm yet commanding voice one minute, and Churchill's more bombastic British accent the next (though occasionally, his enthusiastic Churchill is reminiscent of the sinister aliens Kang and Kodos from The Simpsons). All in all, he does a wonderful job of capturing not only the friendship between the two men, but also the tensions that build as the world turns to war. Simultaneous release with the Random hardcover (Forecasts, Aug. 4, 2003). (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The managing editor of Newsweek describes a complex relationship. With the first serial to Newsweek, of course. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Admiring, even romantic chronicle of the Anglo-American leaders’ warm personal relationship before and during WWII. Newsweek managing editor Meacham (ed., Voices in Our Blood: America’s Best on the Civil Rights Movement, 2000) begins in Yalta, 1945, at a time he much later characterizes as "the true twilight" of the friendship between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. The president is not welldistracted, evenand the prime minister is feeling both his and his former empire’s diminished status as the war winds to its end, with Uncle Joe Stalin and the Soviet Union on the rise. The author then goes back to 1918 and the duo’s first meeting (not recalled fondly by FDR) before swiftly, almost breathlessly moving forward to 1939 and the Nazi invasion of Poland. What ensues between the two Greatest Leaders of the Greatest Generation is much like a courtship. Churchill pursued the US’s might (albeit mostly potential at the time), seeing Roosevelt as the reluctant bride-to-be with an enviable dowry of ships, planes, materiel, and men. But FDR, though eight years Winston’s junior, was no naïve ingénue. As Meacham ably shows, he was capable of Clintonesque compartmentalizing, courting Stalin while dissembling artfully to maintain Churchill’s affections. (Assessing Roosevelt’s actual extramarital affairs, Meacham assures us that the president was interested more in romance than in sex.) Roosevelt also managed to disguise the effects of his polio and to win an unprecedented four US presidential elections. Meacham quotes liberally from the two men’s vast correspondence (some 2,000 letters) and from eyewitnesses to the 113 days they spent together. He has clearly mastered hismaterial, though he does not comment on the long-standing controversy over whether either leader knew in advance about Pearl Harbor and concludes with the un-startling statement that the world would be different had Hitler won. A pleasant walk over very familiar ground. (b&w photos throughout.)
“This is at once an important, insightful, and highly entertaining portrait of two men at the peak of their powers who, through their genius, common will, and uncommon friendship, saved the world. Jon Meacham’s Franklin and Winston takes its place in the front ranks of all that has been written about these two great men.“
—Tom Brokaw, author of The Greatest Generation
“Franklin and Winston is a sensitive, perceptive, and absorbing portrait of the friendship that saved the democratic world in the greatest war in history.”
—Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., author of The Age of Roosevelt
“Jon Meacham has done groundbreaking work by focusing on the World War II alliance between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill as a friendship. Using important new sources, he has brought us a shrewd, original, sensitive, and fascinating look at the many-layered relationship between these two towering human beings, as well as their friends, families, aides, and allies. The book reveals the emotional undercurrents that linked FDR and Churchill—and sometimes estranged them—and teases out which of the ties between them were heartfelt and which were based on raw mutual political need. Meacham triumphantly shows how lucky we are that Roosevelt and Churchill were in power together during some of the most threatening moments of the twentieth century.”
—Michael Beschloss, author of The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1941–1945
“The relationship between FDR and Churchill was the most important political friendship of the twentieth century, not only determining the outcome of World War II but also setting a pattern that has endured ever since. Jon Meacham brings it to vivid life, shedding new insights into its strange and poignant complexity, and why its legacy has helped shape the modern world.”
—Richard Holbrooke, author of To End a War
“Jon Meacham enlivens the two men, their families, and their personal relations and relationships, providing a human context for the world-shaping leaders of the Anglo-American alliance during the Second World War.”
—Warren F. Kimball, author of Forged in War: Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Second World War