“Superb . . . Hamilton brilliantly sets out Roosevelt’s foresight, determination and skill in establishing a new world order.” —Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post
“Provocative . . . stimulating to follow.” —Thomas E. Ricks, New York Times Book Review
1943 was the year of Allied military counteroffensives, beating back the forces of the Axis powers in North Africa and the Pacific—the “Hinge of Fate,” as Winston Churchill called it. In Commander in Chief Nigel Hamilton reveals FDR’s true role in this saga: overruling his own Joint Chiefs of Staff, ordering American airmen on an ambush of the Japanese navy’s Admiral Yamamoto, facing down Churchill when he attempted to abandon Allied D-day strategy (twice). This FDR is profoundly different from the one Churchill later painted. President Roosevelt’s patience was tested to the limit quelling the Prime Minister’s “revolt,” as Churchill pressured Congress and senior American leaders to focus Allied energy on disastrous fighting in Italy and the Aegean instead of landings in Normandy. Finally, in a dramatic showdown at Hyde Park, FDR had to stop Churchill from losing the war by making the ultimate threat, setting the Allies on their course to final victory.
In Commander in Chief, Hamilton masterfully chronicles the clash of nations—and of two titanic personalities—at a crucial moment in modern history.
“The rebuttal to the Churchill multivolume history . . . The war retains its power to shock and surprise.” — Boston Globe
Biographer Hamilton (The Mantle of Command) combines polished writing, a command of various sources, and broad insight in this account of Franklin Roosevelt's pivotal WWII year. It was in 1943 that Roosevelt definitively established himself as leader of the Anglo-American alliance. The struggle for dominance between Roosevelt and Winston Churchill is usually presented from the latter's perspective. In contrast, Hamilton focuses on Roosevelt, presenting him as a war leader "with not only a vision of the future, but how to achieve that future." The key to his plan was the United Nations. It would be established as a consequence of the destruction of Nazi Germany, which meant a full-scale, cross-channel invasion of Europe. Churchill accepted the concept but made every effort to undermine it. The result was a test of wills. Churchill, seeking to husband British resources and fearing that a Continental invasion would end in disaster, "presented an obsessive argument for the invasion of Italy and the Balkans." By mid-1943 his recalcitrance placed the coalition "in grave peril." At Quebec in August the negotiations were "near homicidal," but the endgame saw Churchill accepting the inevitable. Hamilton shows why Roosevelt "had every reason to feel supreme" with the U.S. becoming "the leading power of the free world."