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Franklin and Winston

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Franklin and Winston. An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship. By Jon Meacham. (Random House: 2004. Pg. 512.) ISBN: 0812972821.

Reviewed by Herbert White - November 12, 2003

The American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill had a great deal in common. Not only were they both long serving and respected political leaders, but they also came from similar social and economic backgrounds. Even before the dark days of World War II, FDR and Churchill had a friendly relationship. This relationship was to deepen, on both political and personal levels, as the two men struggled to lead their respective countries to a joint victory against the Axis powers. In Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, Jon Meacham has created an engaging portrait of these two men that shows just how important their friendship was in determining the outcome of World War II, as well as future Anglo-American relations.

Meacham touches new ground in this animated narrative. Many books have been written about FDR and Churchill's relationship from a political perspective. This work, however, takes a different tack. Rather than writing about their political personals, Meacham has written a moving and intimate portrait of their personal friendship and personal interactions - both public and private. In researching this book, Meacham has uncovered a treasure trove of new information, especially regarding their personal meetings, that helps to broaden our understanding of these two influential men. In addition he has incorporated information garnered from interviews he conducted with those that knew the men.

Throughout, this text is brimming with direct quotes from these interviews, along with excerpts from letters that FDR and Churchill wrote to each other. Additionally, Meacham has incorporated information garnered from pervious unpublished documents, such as the letters of Lucy Page Mercer Rutherfurd. (FDR had a long-standing affair with Mrs. Rutherfurd that began around 1914, when Lucy was Eleanor Roosevelt's social secretary.)

Franklin and Winston is an important work that should be read by anyone seeking insights in the historical significance of FDR and Churchill's friendship. Written in an engaging, neighborly narrative style, this book will enthrall readers with its intimate portrait of these two powerful leaders. By sharing these intimate details, Meacham has breathed life into the formal descriptions of these men that are often found in history books. Throughout, he depicts them as they really were - passionate, intelligent, and fallible.

This large print edition of Franklin and Winston includes the same source notes, bibliography, and index, as does the standard print edition of this monumental work. This text is also illustrated. Authoritative, engaging, and perceptive, I highly recommend this book.


Related Reviews:

Roosevelt and Churchill: Men of Secrets, by David Stafford.
Stafford has penned a compelling and thought-provoking look at Roosevelt and Chruchill, and the intelligence agencies at their disposal during World War II.

Crusade in Europe, by Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In this informative book, Eisenhower supplies an insider's look at America's role in Europe during World War II, as seen through the eyes of the man who commanded the Allied Forces.

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