The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941–1942

Nigel Hamilton. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30 (512p) ISBN 978-0-547-77524-1

Accomplished biographer Hamilton (Biography: A Brief History) delivers an analysis of President Franklin Roosevelt in the role of Commander-in-Chief through the first two years of WWII. The author follows his subject through 14 pivotal periods of the early war years and demonstrates that F.D.R. frequently trusted his own judgment over the advice of the military professionals who surrounded him. Central to the book and its thesis is the contest of wills between F.D.R. and his group of distinguished military advisors regarding the proposed invasion of North Africa in 1942, which was aggressively opposed by General Marshall and Secretary of War Stimson. This decision almost resulted in a “mutiny” against the President. Events ultimately vindicated the President’s decision and firmly established his talent for grand strategy. Though it’s a weighty tome, and is based extensively on Roosevelt’s own notes, Hamilton keeps a brisk pace throughout to produce what will likely be seen as a definitive volume on this aspect of Roosevelt’s career and essential reading for anyone interested in WWII, the Roosevelt Presidency, and presidential leadership. Agent: Ike Williams; Kneerim, Williams & Bloom Literary Agency. (May)
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