A new history of the Franklin Roosevelt/World War II era and the many significant characters who inhabited it.
Beating Germany or Japan was not a given in the bitter early stretches of the war, and it could not have happened unless the United States effectively harnessed its resources quickly. Military historian Lacey (War, Policy, and Strategy/Marine Corps War Coll.; Great Strategic Rivalries: From the Classical World to the Cold War, 2016, etc.) shows how the U.S.—which, in 1940, had a military the size of Bulgaria’s—would, within 30 months, turn the tide to victory. Much of the success owes to the leadership and strategy of Roosevelt and Gen. George Marshall, yet the momentum toward victory was years in the making. Roosevelt played his advisers against each other—e.g., Henry Hopkins, secretary of commerce, and Harold Ickes, secretary of interior, who were both tasked with ending the Depression—and he often worked in secret, as when he jump-started the military procurement in 1938 before the public knew of his motivation to aid England. As the European conflict intensified, Roosevelt stood firmly by the people he trusted. Ever politically astute, he appointed two Republicans to key war-building positions just on the eve of his own dicey decision to run for a third term: Henry Stimson at the war department and Frank Knox to run the Navy. With the Cabinet stocked with men in a driving hurry, Roosevelt tapped the brilliant Ernest King as chief of naval operations. Lacey manages to gather together the many strands of this remarkable story of how the U.S. government harnessed the disparate talents of business leaders, congressmen, volatile generals, and prickly heads of state such as Churchill. As the author notes, these “titanic rows almost always led to better outcomes than would have prevailed had there been a single man or apparatus directing events.”
A densely researched, thorough history for students of Roosevelt and World War II.