The most complete portrait ever drawn of the complex emotional connection between two of history's towering leaders Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were the greatest leaders of "the Greatest Generation." In Franklin and Winston, Jon Meacham explores the fascinating relationship between the two men who piloted the free world to victory in World War II. It was a crucial friendship, and a unique one-a president and a prime minister spending enormous amounts of time together (113 days during the war) and exchanging nearly two thousand messages. Amid cocktails, cigarettes, and cigars, they met, often secretly, in places as far-flung as Washington, Hyde Park, Casablanca, and Teheran, talking to each other of war, politics, the burden of command, their health, their wives, and their children. Born in the nineteenth century and molders of the twentieth and twenty-first, Roosevelt and Churchill had much in common. Sons of the elite, students of history, politicians of the first rank, they savored power. In their own time both men were underestimated, dismissed as arrogant, and faced skeptics and haters in their own nations-yet both magnificently rose to the central challenges of the twentieth century.
Drawing on interviews with surviving staffers and other previously untapped sources, Newsweek managing editor Meacham delves into the deep and complicated relationship between the two men who may very well have been the most powerful men on the planet during the most threatening times of the 20th century. FDR and Churchill spent much time together (a total of 113 days), planning, eating, smoking and drinking many a cocktail, and Meacham fleshes out the men behind the public faces, revealing the intricacies and the sometimes raw opportunism of their complicated relationship. Veteran actor and audiobook reader Cariou's authoritative presentation is rock solid and gripping. His gravelly baritone is transformed into Roosevelt's calm yet commanding voice one minute, and Churchill's more bombastic British accent the next (though occasionally, his enthusiastic Churchill is reminiscent of the sinister aliens Kang and Kodos from The Simpsons). All in all, he does a wonderful job of capturing not only the friendship between the two men, but also the tensions that build as the world turns to war. Simultaneous release with the Random hardcover (Forecasts, Aug. 4, 2003). (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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October 11, 2004
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Excerpt from Franklin and Winston by Jon Meacham
TWO LIONS ROARING AT THE SAME TIME
A Disappointing Early Encounter- Their Lives Down the Years-The Coming of World War II
In the opening hours of a mission to wartime Europe in July 1918, Franklin Roosevelt, then thirty-six and working for the Navy Department, looked over a typewritten "Memorandum For Assistant Secretary" to discover what was in store for him in London. Reading the schedule's description of his evening engagement for Monday, July 29, Roosevelt learned that he was "to dine at a function given for the Allied Ministers Prosecuting the War." Hosted by F. E. Smith, a government minister and good friend of Winston Churchill's, the banquet was held in the hall of Gray's Inn in London. It was a clear evening-the wind was calm-and Roosevelt and Churchill, the forty-three-year-old former first lord of the Admiralty who was then minister of munitions, mingled among the guests below a portrait of Elizabeth I.
What were Roosevelt and Churchill like on this summer night Frances Perkins knew them both in these early years. A progressive reformer, the first female member of a president's cabinet-Roosevelt would name her secretary of labor after he was elected in 1932-Perkins saw their strengths and their weaknesses. She first encountered Roosevelt in 1910 at a tea dance in Manhattan's Gramercy Park. Perkins was a graduate student at Columbia, already immersed in the world of social causes and settlement houses; Roosevelt was running for the state senate from Dutchess County. "There was nothing particularly interesting about the tall, thin young man with the high collar and pince-nez," Perkins recalled. They spoke briefly of Roosevelt's cousin Theodore, the former president of the United States, but Perkins did not give this Roosevelt "a second thought" until she ran across him again in Albany a few years later. She watched him work the Capitol-"tall and slender, very active and alert, moving around the floor, going in and out of committee rooms, rarely talking with the members, who more or less avoided him, not particularly charming (that came later), artificially serious of face, rarely smiling, with an unfortunate habit-so natural that he was unaware of it-of throwing his head up. This, combined with his pince-nez and great height, gave him the appearance of looking down his nose at most people." Later, the toss of the head would signal confidence and cheer. In the young Roosevelt it seemed, Perkins said, "slightly supercilious." She once heard a fellow politician say: "Awful arrogant fellow, that Roosevelt."
Perkins had also spent time with Churchill when she visited pre-World War I England. He was, she recalled, "a very interesting, alert, and vigorous individual who was an intellectual clearly." Churchill, she would tell President Roosevelt years later, "is this kind of a fellow: You want to be careful. He runs ahead of himself, or at least he used to." He was stubborn, Perkins said, "so sure of himself that he would insist upon doing the thing that he thought was a good thing to do. He was a little bit vain. He thought people were old fuddy-duds if they didn't agree with him." Her bottom line
"He's pig-headed in his own way," Perkins said. "He's often right and brilliant, but . . ." But. She left the sentence unfinished.