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**New York Times Bestseller**
Jay Winik brings to life in “gripping” detail (The New York Times Book Review) the year 1944, which determined the outcome of World War II and put more pressure than any other on an ailing yet determined President Roosevelt.
1944 was a year that could have stymied the Allies and cemented Hitler’s waning power. Instead, it saved those democracies—but with a fateful cost. Now, in a “complex history rendered with great color and sympathy” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), Jay Winik captures the epic images and extraordinary history “with cinematic force” (Time).
1944 witnessed a series of titanic events: FDR at the pinnacle of his wartime leadership as well as his reelection, the unprecedented D-Day invasion, the liberation of Paris, and the tumultuous conferences that finally shaped the coming peace. But millions of lives were at stake as President Roosevelt learned about Hitler’s Final Solution. Just as the Allies were landing in Normandy, the Nazis were accelerating the killing of millions of European Jews. Winik shows how escalating pressures fell on an infirm Roosevelt, who faced a momentous decision. Was winning the war the best way to rescue the Jews? Or would it get in the way of defeating Hitler? In a year when even the most audacious undertakings were within the world’s reach, one challenge—saving Europe’s Jews—seemed to remain beyond Roosevelt’s grasp.
“Compelling….This dramatic account highlights what too often has been glossed over—that as nobly as the Greatest Generation fought under FDR’s command, America could well have done more to thwart Nazi aggression” (The Boston Globe). Destined to take its place as one of the great works of World War II, 1944 is the first book to retell these events with moral clarity and a moving appreciation of the extraordinary actions of many extraordinary leaders.
Though the title suggests that historian Winik has limited himself to the history of a single year, in actuality his scope is far greater. The year 1944 is not the focus but the turning point in Winik's account, which swiftly skips through the events of WWII and even stretches back to cover F.D.R. and Hitler's simultaneous ascendancies. The result, however, is far from encyclopedic. Offering only cursory accounts of the Manhattan Project, the Pacific campaign, and the effort to create the United Nations, Winik eschews many events of 1944 to look instead at what he sees as F.D.R.'s two greatest challenges that year: planning the invasion of Normandy and saving European Jews from the Third Reich. As F.D.R.'s health rapidly deteriorates, he concentrates on winning the war, but his single-minded focus comes at great cost. Winik painstakingly documents F.D.R.'s failure to help Europe's Jews, even after the extent of the Holocaust becomes clear. As critical as Winik is of F.D.R., he is even more disparaging toward the obstructionist State Department. For Winik, 1944 becomes not only the year of F.D.R.'s greatest triumph when it became clear the Allies would prevail but also the year he failed Europe's Jews.