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Review: The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941–1942

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The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941–1942
The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941–1942 by Nigel Hamilton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked up Mantle of Command at the Little White House gift shop while visiting the Historic Site on vacation this year. It looked like it would be an interesting read and it would be nice to have a book on FDR that came from his Little White House at Warm Springs. Mantle of Command essentially takes a look at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s leadership as Commander in Chief during the early stages of World War II, essentially from the Argentia Conference in 1941 to the Torch Landings in North Africa in 1942. Hamilton’s intent was to show that Roosevelt was not being led by the nose by Churchill, as some would have you believe, but was the true leader and decision maker in the direction and strategy of the early days of World War II after the United States’ entry into the war. In my opinion, however, Hamilton goes beyond biography and History into hagiography. It seems that from Hamilton’s perspective everything that Churchill, Stimson, Knox, Hull, Marshall, King, and others do wrong and everything that Roosevelt does is right. Furthermore, he is downright hostile toward Churchill and Stimson in particular. He goes too far and the book lacks objectivity; it feels like he started out with a premise and instead of exploring that premise only attempted to prove it. I have to admit that I was profoundly disappointed with this book after having good expectations of it. I don’t like giving bad reviews, but this is a History book that I just can’t recommend.

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