THE FREEDOM ROAD: 1944-1945 by Richard Collier

THE FREEDOM ROAD: 1944-1945

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the manner of its predecessors, 1940: The Avalanche (1979) and The Road to Pearl Harbor: 1941 (1981); a vivid-to-lurid kaleidoscope of the last 18 months of WW II, from Tehran and the Normandy buildup through Hiroshima and its aftermath--with a running stress on the declining FDR's misjudgments, an underlying contrast between American and British performance. Because FDR was bamboozled by Stalin, as Collier would have it: ""in all occupied Europe short-term political and military expedience was to triumph over long-term political interests."" The quick cuts, furthermore, will confound those without a firm grasp of the course of events. In a kickoff chapter (""March 1-April 23, 1944""): Squadron Leader Roland Beamont prepares to bomb Nazi missile-launching sites; Hitler bullies Mussolini and Hungarian leader Horthy; gynecologist Dr. Gisella Krausz is deported to Auschwitz; Eichmann proposes a deal to Jewish-relief agent Joel Brand; Churchill announces to Parliament that the Allies will back Yugoslav Communist Tito and allow Russia to ""liberate Poland""; double-agent Lily Sergueiev, in Lisbon, rails at both her British and German employers; FDR's doctors cover-up his heart condition and FDR (who also ""believed what he wished to believe"") holds out for unconditional surrender (the better, tortuously, to ""stamp out"" British colonialism); the ghastly siege of Kohima is lifted, saving Stilwell's Burma lifeline (""It was a time when the British needed all the shrugged-off courage they could muster""); under pressure of D-Day planning, Ike's temper flares, controversies rage, security leaks threaten. The detail can be trivial, the delivery melodramatic (as often with the Nazis and Soviets, always with spy Lily). It can also be telling (a Vichy police officer warned to change his buttons, Franco changing the pictures on his desk), or genuinely dramatic (Harry Truman, after FDR's death, on the phone to chatty teenage Margaret: ""Will you please let me speak to your mother?""). Competent (if biased) popularization for the anecdotal-minded.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1984
Publisher: Atheneum