cover image 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History

1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History

Jay Winik. Simon & Schuster, $35 (656p) ISBN 978-1-4391-1408-7

Though the title suggests that historian Winik (April 1865) 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. [em]Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management (Oct.) [/em]