Commander in Chief

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants and Their War

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Overview

Few American presidents have exercised their constitutional authority as commander in chief with more determination than Franklin D. Roosevelt. He intervened in military operations more often and to better effect than his contemporaries Churchill and Stalin, and maneuvered events so that the Grand Alliance was directed from Washington. In this expansive history, Eric Larrabee examines the extent and importance of FDR's wartime leadership through his key military leaders—Marshall, King, Arnold, MacArthur, Vandergrift, Nimitz, Eisenhower, Stilwell, and LeMay.

Devoting a chapter to each man, the author studies Roosevelt's impact on their personalities, their battles (sometimes with each other), and the consequences of their decisions. He also addresses such critical subjects as Roosevelt's responsibility for the war and how well it achieved his goals. First published in 1987, this comprehensive portrait of the titans of the American military effort in World War II is available in a new paperback edition for the first time in sixteen years.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

"Larrabee here assembles what, essentially, is a collection of short biographies of four army generals (George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, Joseph Stilwell); two air force generals (Hap Arnold, Curtis LeMay); one marine general (A. A. Vandegrift); and two admirals (Ernest King, Chester Nimitz)all of whom oversaw the execution of Roosevelt's strategic directives during World War II. The emphasis throughout is on the relationships, direct and indirect, these officers had with the president, illustrating the premise that more than any man FDR ran the war, and ran it well enough to deserve the gratitude of his countrymen then and since, and of those from whom he lifted the yoke of the Axis tyrannies. The book is well researched and superbly writtenand studded with the author's blunt opinions. Criticizing Roosevelt's China policy (bad in conception, bad in execution), Larrabee calls the president's treatment of Stilwell the darkest blot on his record as commander in chief. The chapter on MacArthur and his staff is especially scathing: 'A false giant among real pygmies.'"  —Publishers Weekly
"A delight to read, this book is as fluidly written as it is sophisticated." —Library Journal
 “Offers a well-drawn, concise portrait of a host of leaders with the human qualities we could use....” —First Things

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