WHO: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin
WHAT: ROOSEVELT AND STALIN:
Portrait of a Partnership by Susan Butler
WHEN: Published by Knopf March 4, 2015
WHERE: The US and Russia
WHY: “Absorbing and provocative.
“The wartime alliance between the so-called Big Three—Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin—was inherently asymmetrical. The U.S. was linked to Britain by ties of history, language, and shared values based on individual liberty. After decades of hostility and suspicion, the U.S. alliance with the totalitarian, murderous Soviet regime was based strictly on the military necessity of defeating Nazi Germany.
“Once that objective was achieved, there seemed little basis for a sustained partnership. But, according to Butler, that is exactly what Roosevelt and Stalin envisioned. In this absorbing, provocative, and rather disturbing theory, Butler makes extensive use of recently declassified material, including letters between the two men. Butler claims Roosevelt was well aware of the repressive nature of the Soviet political system, yet he was supremely confident of his ability to persuade Stalin that they had a common interest in designing a postwar order based on a lasting peace.
“Butler’s description of their evolving relationship is interesting, but the suggestion that Roosevelt viewed Stalin as a ‘friend’ who could be trusted, given Stalin’s cynicism, ideology, and willingness to promote mass murder, is shocking, offensive, and could indicate both naïveté and foolishness on the part of Roosevelt…This work is likely to energize considerable debate.” —Jay Freeman, BOOKLIST
“A thorough account of the alliance between two very different leaders.”
“Butler effectively demonstrates that there was no greater mediator and champion of peace than Roosevelt, whose sudden death in the final months of WWII robbed the world of perhaps the man who could have averted the Cold War.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
From the beginning of the book: On Thursday morning, November 11, 1943, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, President Roosevelt left the White House in an open convertible and swept through the capital, the Stars and Stripes and the presidential flag flying from the front of the car. He was on his way to pay homage at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. There was a holiday air in the city: flags were on display, and banks were closed for the day. As the president’s car reached the cemetery and proceeded to the tomb, a twenty-one-gun salute, fired from the latest antitank gun, boomed out across the Potomac valley.
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