This Award Winning Companion Volume To Roosevelt The Lion And The Fox Concludes The First And Most Acclaimed Complete Biography Of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Undoubtedly The Most Comprehensive Study Of One Of America S Most Acclaimed Presidents, This Classic Biography Is Unparalleled In Its Depth, Accuracy, And Accomplishment Imagine if you will a giant chess board Only instead of it being square shaped with only two players, it s a hexdecagon a 16 sided shape There are about 16 different people all playing against one and other As one of the players, your strategy is to somehow not only be the victor of this colossal chess game, but also ensure some of the players other than yourself manage to beat some of your opponents while never getting the upper hand on you Many of your allies on this chessboard aren t really your friends you just need them to help you beat some of the participants that you really don t like Get all that Essentially, this is what Franklin Roosevelt had to do for the United States of America before, and during, World War II All of the geopolitical implications of the major and minor players in this game are enough to make your head spin Yet FDR proves that he s a master of this chess game He manages to play his chess pieces perfectly and although he might lose a piece or two during the match, he proves that he is a genius.Let me now say that this is volume 2 of a 2 volume series by James MacGregor Burns Volume 1 details Roosevelt s life from birth up until 1940 I did not like volume 1 In a word, I thought it was boring So I wasn t that enthused to pick up this next installment Let s just say that I was immensely overwhelmed as to how much I enjoyed this one as opposed to the first I m thinking the subject matter had a lot to do with it Reading about the details of the ugliest war in our world s history is much interesting than reading 500 pages about The New Deal In many cases, you almost forget this is a book about Roosevelt, and instead think you re actually reading a book about the war Yet Burns carefully crafts his telling of history to ensure that everything that happens is happening through Roosevelt s eyes.There s a lot of buildup in the early part of the book to December 7th, 1941 The war actually explodes in Europe than 2 years prior, and the good guys mainly Winston Churchill the brand new Prime Minister of England is soliciting help from FDR anyway that he can FDR s constituents, however, want no part of a European conflict Why should we get involved of something that s over there when we have enough problems over here So Roosevelt has to walk a fine line Sadly, he and most other intelligent figures in the government know that America will eventually have to be involved in this ugly conflict It s just a matter of when Without going into too much detail, relationships with Japan are not good, and you can actually feel the buildup of tension Once Pearl Harbor is attacked, no one is really surprised There s almost a sense of relief dare I use that word that the waiting is over.So Roosevelt s job is to motivate his countrymen towards a sense of inevitable duty, and as history as shown us, he does a remarkable job We re not given too many glimpses into the everyday cries of sacrifice and patriotism Instead the author focuses on the masterful global wide chess game FDR seems to always be thinking of the future, always visualizing the chess board two or three moves in the time to come He knows what will happen, and his energy therefore is devoted to what his next moves are to be Once the war starts, Roosevelt knows that there will be setbacks Yet once we arrive at about 1943, the consensus amongst the major powers is that the allies will, without a doubt, actually win the war It s just a matter of when.A lot of negotiating and bickering goes on between Roosevelt, Churchill and Joseph Stalin These three men want very different things, have different priorities, different objectives and seem to be at odds with each other quite a lot It s a bit interesting seeing FDR s relationship with Stalin, particularly Nowhere in these pages is the man portrayed as the evil butcher that we know he was He never comes across as a soft, cuddly teddy bear, but he s always portrayed here as one of the good guys Perhaps this is because Roosevelt had to treat him with kid gloves since our ultimate goal was to destroy Adolf Hitler In other words, the only reason Russia was our ally in World War II was because Nazi ism was a greater evil than communism.The book isn t entirely about the War There are plenty of issues happening within the continent, yet FDR still manages to handle all of it wonderfully Still, with all of the problems at home, the war is the main thing on everyone s mind, and just about everything that is done in the U.S is geared towards winning the conflict and bringing the boys back home as soon as possible Yet there is still a lot of bickering within the halls of congress about just about anything, so things obviously weren t that much better than they are today.1944 arrives D Day is a success and there are talks of ending the war by Christmas , yet within all of this drama, it s time for another presidential election According to Roosevelt, he doesn t really want a fourth term, but people are obdurate in their feelings and desires So he runs again and wins Oddly, before the election, FDR starts to have serious health issues He pushes them down as best he can, and makes a huge effort to appear presidential, yet those closest to him are worried Many times, you have to wonder if his illness may have hampered some of the ongoing relationships with Churchill and Stalin, yet the author maintains that Roosevelt handles things just fine he just has to treble his efforts to overcome these issues I couldn t help wondering that if the internet or cable television had been around, if FDR would have been re elected Yet since most people couldn t see him frequently, his illness was gossip than fact among most.So as the war starts to wind down in 1945, sadly, so does Roosevelt He passes away in April, without getting to see final victory in Europe a few short weeks later, and victory over Japan a few months after This was really the only minor gripe about the book The author just ends the story when Roosevelt dies I would have enjoyed a postscript that would give a summary of how and when the war ended it was very different in Europe than it was in Asia , as well as an overview of the state of the world following the end, yet we don t get that here I was actually very surprised Still, though, this was a great read and well deserved of the Pulitzer that it received After I read Doris Kearns Goodwin s book on Lincoln and his advisors Team of Rivals , I made the comment that I felt that God had placed one of the best presidents of the United States directly into the time when we needed one the most After reading this book, I d like to believe that The Almighty did the United States one favor eighty years later A truly great man. Roosevelt The Soldier of Freedom 1940 1945 is the second of two volumes in James MacGregor Burns s series on FDR Published in 1970 fourteen years after the first volume this biography won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for History Burns was a historian, biographer and professor at Williams College for nearly 40 years He died in 2014 at the age of 95.This final volume of Burns s series begins on election night 1940 when FDR secured his third presidential term Clearly the product of extensive research, this book dives deeply into the four and a half remaining years of Roosevelt s presidency The author s central propositions that Roosevelt was a deeply divided man between principle and prudence and that he was complex and nearly incomprehensible even to his friends.Unfortunately, Roosevelt is destined to remain enigmatic to readers as Burns studiously avoids any meaningful study of FDR s personal life or inner self As a self described political biography the focus of this book s 612 pages is consistently on the politician rather than the person Fortunately, this volume does place some emphasis on understanding the personas of FDR s contemporaries Churchill, Dewey, Truman and others.But as much as the book promises a laser like focus on Roosevelt his war leadership and political vision, in particular this is often far less a biography of any kind than a political discourse on World War II In its earliest chapter it offers a thorough examination of the tactical situation of the global conflict and only periodically refocuses on FDR for than a modest stretch of time.This is no sweeping story of the war, however Readers unfamiliar with the timeline of World War II or its famous battles will develop an appreciation for its large scale movements but will not develop a particular intimacy with its most vibrant and often disturbing details Burns generally avoids placing the reader in the heat of the battle, preferring to focus on decisions being made behind the scenes by military and political leaders.Though jam packed with details some of them vital, the majority of them inconsequential there are few overarching themes or grand conclusions developed Periodic insights are offered but while the book moves steadily and sometimes tediously through the last years of Roosevelt s life, its lacks an engaging narrative and, for the most part, penetrating insight FDR is closely observed but never dissected or understood there is no comprehensive examination of his legacy.Fortunately, there are many moments when this sequel shines Discussions of Hitler s unrestricted submarine warfare and the surprisingly vast effort to develop an atomic weapon are fascinating Burns provides one of the rousing descriptions of the D Day invasion I ve read in an FDR biography and his review of the Tehran Conference is excellent But for the most part the book lacks an engaging narrative and is never fully intellectually satisfying.Overall, like its predecessor volume, James MacGregor Burns s Roosevelt Soldier of Freedom is relatively disappointing While it does not promise to fill the role of a traditional biography, neither is it a satisfactory study of his political philosophy or a detailed review of the final years of his presidency Readers seeking a comprehensive understanding of Roosevelt or even merely of his presidency will do better elsewhere.Overall rating 3 stars This review is for both volumes of this biographyThe two volumes of James MacGregor Burns magisterial political biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt are unique in their intricate and nuanced understanding of FDR as a political operator While other biographies may give one of a feel for the man as a person or hone in on one aspect or another of his life, there is no better political analysis of FDR s presidency and political career than that which Burns has written.In The Lion and the Fox Burns looks at FDR s political life up to 1940 This includes a detailed account of the ins and outs of New Deal policy making and FDR s political role in it The title is taken from Machiavelli who notes the importance of having both cunning and decisiveness Burns explores many examples of FDR s mixture of both qualities and how these attributes came to be formed Always with the political decisions of the president in mind, Burns details the development of FDR s character from his earliest moments to eventual triumph in social and political spaces starting with Groton, Harvard and on and up through the New York Governorship Interspersed are welcome political cartoons and illustrations that bring the feeling of the varying time periods to life.Undoubtedly the best of the two volumes, The Soldier of Freedom looks at FDR s war leadership and attempts to create an international organization where Wilson, with his doomed League of Nations, had failed Describing FDR s leadership at this time is no easy task but Burns handles it with an astute gift for insightful analysis He does note how FDR must, of necessity, become decisive than he had previously been comfortable with due to the pressures of international conflict The at times intentional confusion and competition FDR set up among his subordinates during the New Deal years had to be jettisoned in order to manage the war successfully Regardless, Burns shows how FDR managed to maintain his power and skill as a politician in the midst of international and national command.Reading both volumes of this political biography is an absolute necessity for any student of FDR and for that matter any student of US and international politics generally No book written before or since captures the political animal that Roosevelt was in the insightful way Burns has done whether lion or fox. There are many volumes on FDR Since the modern Presidency is one of my hobbies, I have read many if not most of them This is one of the best, a judgment apparently shared by the American Society of Historians, since they awarded it the Francis Parkman Prize.The book focuses on the war years and ends with FDR s untimely death in Warm Springs, Georgia The writing is fresh and urgent and the author brings great insight into the momentous decisions made by FDR during those years, decisions that continue to shape our reality than 50 years later.This book is absolutely worth reading today if, for no other reason, to allow the current voting public to get a clue as to what a real President looks like. I must say this book was an undertaking Over 600 pages of text covering Roosevelt during the five years from 1940 1945 Yet, when I saw it on the shelf at the book sale, I knew that I simply had to have it I am so glad to have made the journey through this book I found the book very insightful It not only told about the actions of Roosevelt, but really did a great job of putting Roosevelt in the perspective of his time It gave the points of view of Stalin, Churchill, and many other countries and clearly illustrated how their actions and views affected Roosevelt and how his affected them It discussed the plight of European Jews and how many people who had been colonized clad for freedom It discussed Congress and how Roosevelt worked with and sometimes against them to get the country mobilized for war and to continue to fight the good fight The book also did a great job of presenting a fair picture of FDR It did present him as the great president, statesman and hero that he was, but Burns was not afraid to point out his shortcomings Most notably, the many ways in which Roosevelt failed to make his actions achieve his high ideals I feel that I better understand Roosevelt, as well as the events of World War II both at home and abroad I highly recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in history, and certainly to anyone who shares my intense interest in Roosevelt and the World War II era. My father looked on Roosevelt as a demi god The most perfect man for the job and was sorely sorry that he died when he did So from his idolization, I was looking for the real man, Roosevelt was in this book I have a much realistic vision of him now A human, with flaws and foibles, but a very perfect leader for the time His reticence to act sometimes, combined with his snap decisions at others turned out to be the perfect balance of what we needed at a time when we had wars going on in 2 areas at once.Now, I need to read the precursor of this book, The Fox and the Lion. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a complex man and seen by others in various ways The statements below, from the book, illustrate this In Japan , an announcer for Radio Tokyo read the death bulletin and unaccountably presented some special music in honor of the passing of a great man even those who knew Roosevelt best agreed that he was a man infinitely complex and almost incomprehensible.Partly because of his disbelief in planning far ahead , partly because he elevated short run goals over long run , and always because of his experience and temperament , he did not fashion the structure of action the full array of mutually consistent means , political , economic , psychological , military necessary to realize his paramount ends.To examine closely single aspects of Roosevelt s character as thinker , as organizer , as manipulator , as strategist , as idealist is to see failings and deficiencies interwoven with the huge capacities But to stand back and look at the man as a whole , against the backdrop of his people and his times , is to see the lineaments of greatness courage , joyousness , responsiveness , vitality , faith.described by E M Forster sensitive but not weak , considerate but not fussy , plucky in his power to endure , capable of laughing and of taking a joke He was the true happy warrior.James Burns gives us a clear, honest portrait of FDR, showing his qualities that were very much needed during World War II, without whitewashing his foibles It is interesting to speculate how the war and its aftermath would have turned out had he not been President, or if he had died during the third term, before Harry Truman became Vice President It is also interesting to note that, contrary to the claims of the 45th President, Donald Trump is not the first President, nor was FDR to be boldly criticized by the press and media It goes with the territory Burns brings out those criticisms via quotes and editorial cartoons.It is in the latter that the quality of the book suffers if one is reading on Kindle The cartoons are not clear and the words spoken by the characters are usually unreadable Nevertheless, an outstanding book that gives us a wonderful narrative not only on FDR but also on Churchill and Stalin and the relationship between them.Five stars. This is a well written history of Roosevelt in power from 1940 to his death in 1945 Burns captures well the events and feelings of the times His descriptions of war torn Europe and Asia plus the different characters and their roles is very good The relations of Roosevelt to the power players of the era Churchill, Stalin, Chiang Kai Shek are excellent There are depictions of the historical events in Normandy, Stalingrad which are succinct but well crafted.He does give us the ambivalence of Roosevelt who was the best actor of that epoch Roosevelt would be constantly probing to see how far he could go without jeopardizing his popularity in the U.S If he would have declared war prior to Pearl Harbour all would have been lost It may have been justified, but Roosevelt knew how to manage and balance the right thing with his hold on power.But Burns gives us little of the personal Roosevelt There is little on his relationship with those closest to him like Eleanor, his mother or his children Even his relationship with those in his government Harry Hopkins, Francis Perkins is barely mentioned Roosevelt was a very communicative human being he loved gossip and wanted to know what made people tick.Burns is excellent on the political side of Roosevelt, but the personal side is ignored. I began reading this with a hope and expectation that the book would focus on Roosevelt the man Instead, I found myself taking a deep dive into all the minutia of war, with a somewhat mind numbing collection of historical personages, battles, meetings, etc To be sure, elements of Roosevelt, the man, emerged, most notably his political savvy and the equivocating behavior that defined it One surprise mentioned just a few times in passing was Roosevelt s attitude about his physical disability I d often read about how the press avoided photographing FDR in his wheel chair and how, as a consequence, many Americans did not realize the president was largely wheel chair bound Indeed, Roosevelt made great efforts to appear to be mobile than he really was Yet one episode described in the book related how FDR insisted on being wheeled through a veteran s hospital ward so the soldiers could see they were not alone in their infirmity On another occasion, toward the end of his life, FDR addressed the press without taking the lectern, expressing how much easier it was to talk from his chair without the extraordinary weight of his leg braces It was these moments that made me feel as if I were seeing a human side of the man than what was presented through most of the work.The book is unquestionably well written and meticulously researched Normally, I enjoy nonfiction of all kinds, and history in particular However, I came away feeling like I d just been served a helping of an ill flavored vegetable healthy, but unappealing to my taste buds In all fairness, it may be my taste buds that are at fault.