The third in a presidential trilogy by the Fox News host spotlights another telling moment of executive leadership—in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s case, the decision, made in November 1943, to embark on an invasion of Normandy.
Admitting he is not a historian, Baier (Three Days in Moscow: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Empire, 2018, etc.) takes on one of the most written-about personas in history, offering his “personal journalist’s spin on the great events of Roosevelt’s day.” Essentially, he delivers a highly admiring biography that breaks no new ground, using the three days at Tehran, “that vital conference,” as the apotheosis of his leadership—when he took a chance on Joseph Stalin, whose country’s might was deemed necessary to turn the tide of war against the Nazis. Baier builds the narrative with a spirited account of FDR’s life, the details of which are well known. Though his mother coddled him, she was also dedicated to his intellectual and emotional growth. As the author writes, awkwardly, “as was the case with so many presidents, Franklin Roosevelt’s mother was the wind beneath his expansive wings.” FDR’s rise in politics was temporarily slowed by polio, but even that could not defeat his spirit. “It strengthened him,” writes Baier, “as if he had been waiting all his life for a challenge large enough for his ambitions.” Within this “crucible,” FDR became a vital leader just in time to help lead the faltering nation out of the Depression. By the time FDR forged his partnership with Churchill, Roosevelt was at the top of his game, a war president who had supreme confidence in his persuasive abilities. Meeting Stalin for the first time face to face had been a hard-won charm offensive, and agreeing to stay in the Soviet Embassy compound (knowing it was bugged) confounded the British even as it disarmed the Soviets. The campaign to hammer out the cross-channel invasion had begun.
A condensation of the historical record that will appeal most to Baier’s fans.