Attorney Jordan (Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley and the Partnership that Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe, 2011, etc.) delivers another page-turning chronicle of World War II.
Small details and little-mentioned facts make this a highly informative look at four men in charge in Washington, D.C., during that time. Franklin Roosevelt never made it easy for his military men. He was secretive and nonchalant, and his answers to their questions were often glib and equivocal. He was also very much under the spell of Winston Churchill. Planning meetings often began with the British presenting their strategy and the Americans, with no clue from FDR, nodding their heads. Luckily, the American contingent included Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall; Secretary of War Henry Stimson; and Ernest J. King, leader of the Navy. Marshall had his hands full fighting the Allies as much as the enemy. In the Pacific, there were squabbles between Army and Navy, and Gen. Douglas MacArthur focused primarily on his promise to relieve the Philippines. The British harped on their needs to strike at Africa and the Balkans, while the American public and Joseph Stalin were demanding action against Hitler in France. American tanks, planes, and ships supplied all of these theaters during the war, but they could only produce so much. Furthermore, a second front was impossible until 1944. Throughout, the author provides astute and clever portrayals of the leaders, including Churchill’s pretense to his ancestor’s abilities, Stalin’s displays of compassion, and FDR’s meddling in naval projects. Jordan’s wonderful new insight into the leaders shows how lucky we were regarding Stimson’s prescient warnings about nuclear war, Marshall’s long-suffering, self-effacing loyalty, and King’s rough-and-ready fighting abilities.
In addition to World War II buffs, other readers will enjoy the intrigue, back-stabbing, action, and diplomacy in this well-written book.