cover image War and Peace: FDR’s Final Odyssey: D-Day to Yalta, 1943–1945

War and Peace: FDR’s Final Odyssey: D-Day to Yalta, 1943–1945

Nigel Hamilton. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30 (592p) ISBN 978-0-544-87680-4

Hamilton (Commander in Chief: FDR’s Battle with Churchill) closes out his trilogy focusing on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s role in WWII with this thorough and deliberate recounting of the final months of Roosevelt’s life, during which he suffered through increasingly poor health while leading the U.S. toward the end of the war. Hamilton aims “not only to chart with fresh clarity how dire was his affliction, but how exactly it affected his decisions and once masterly performance as commander in chief of the Western Allies.” Hamilton shows how Roosevelt “held the feet of the British to the D-Day fire” during the 1943 Tehran meetings, when Churchill began to doubt the war strategy prior to meeting with Stalin. Returning from that success, Roosevelt’s health took a turn for the worse; what first seemed to be a bout of flu was more serious cardiac complications. While ill, he won an unprecedented fourth term as president, rekindled an affair with Lucy Rutherfurd, and met again with Stalin and Churchill in Yalta to plan for a postwar world order, including the founding of the United Nations. The depth of coverage of these 17 months may be more than some readers desire, but it vividly recreates FDR’s decline and makes his accomplishments all the more impressive. Like its predecessors in the trilogy, this volume will reward readers of WWII and presidential history. Illus. [em](May) [/em]