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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. 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. The concluding volume of Burns biography on FDR this one covering the war years from just after the 1940 election leading to an unprecedented third term for FDR to FDR s death on 4 12 45 Burns does a good job covering Roosevelt s cultivation of his two main Allies Churchill and Stalin The multiple overseas conferences are discussed in detail, including Roosevelt s mixed success in trying to appease the various factions of the fractured French government, and also his passive aggressive treatment of Chiang Kai Shek of China Burns devotes a large portion of the book to examining Roosevelt s leadership style, and indicating that how, ultimately, nobody could really ever figure him out He was alternately charming and cutting, devious and frank, flexible yet stern all depending on who he was dealing with and when He rightfully credits FDR for his incredible capacity to handle the demands of the presidency and balance so many diverging major issues simultaneously Yet, his penchant for secrecy and deviousness alienated many advisers and friends over the years, and ultimately it left Harry Truman in a difficult position upon FDR s sudden though not wholly unexpected death Burns does not really talk in depth about Roosevelt s lack of contingency planning in case anything did happen to him I enjoyed Burns first volume than this one While well written, at times the narrative seemed bland to me oddly detached Burns talks so much about Roosevelt s leadership qualities and flaws that I think he sometimes missed the personal side of the man For example, Eleanor Roosevelt is a very minor player in this book Yet she still played a big role in his life as far as being a sort of social conscience about issues such as racism Roosevelt s resumption of seeing his former mistress Lucy Rutherfurd is mentioned perfunctorily Overall a decent biography, but I prefer Jean Edward Smith s FDR or Doris Kearns Goodwin s No Ordinary Time for a well rounded portrait of FDR. 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. 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