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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing book about an astonishing man
Conrad Black concludes his 1130 page text setting out seven reasons to support his claim that F.D. Roosevelt was the most important man of the 20th century. His case is convincing and I would neither care nor dare to put forward another name to compete for that position.
Roosevelt was an extraordinary man and Black's biography is an extraordinarily profound work that...
Published on 26 July 2004 by Chris J. Newman

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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Major flaw.
This is an excellent book in many respects, but contains a major flaw that destroys the entire argument.

Conrad Black is unclear why FDR wanted war with Hitler. On the one hand he seems to believe Germany was no threat to the USA, and quotes without comment Stalin's toast (p1063) to the leader of the USA, which "was not seriously threatened with invasion"...
Published on 27 Dec 2006 by qpippin


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing book about an astonishing man, 26 July 2004
By 
Chris J. Newman "lao-ke" (China) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom (Hardcover)
Conrad Black concludes his 1130 page text setting out seven reasons to support his claim that F.D. Roosevelt was the most important man of the 20th century. His case is convincing and I would neither care nor dare to put forward another name to compete for that position.
Roosevelt was an extraordinary man and Black's biography is an extraordinarily profound work that does full justice to his subject. It is not possible to read this book without being overwhelmed by its depth and breadth. In terms of depth, Black's characterisation of his subject leaves the reader with a feeling of having personally known him or at least of having experienced his years of presidency. In its breadth it provides a detailed analysis of the political and strategic influences that evolved during Roosevelt's 12-year presidency and the astonishing political and strategic influences Roosevelt himself generated. Even Black's characterisations of the (dozens of) other players in the drama - not least Churchill, Stalin, and De Gaulle - are brilliant and incisive. No other book that I have ever read has ever set out so clearly and concisely either the background to WW2 (such as FDR's deliberate provocation of the Japanese attack on the USA) or the sequence of the events that defined the war. Surprisingly (since the book doesn't dwell on Hitler's or Nazi Germany's venality), it presents a clearer picture of their actions and motivations than many other books that are dedicated to the subject.
It would be presumptuous of me to attempt to summarize Black's work or the life described therein. Suffice to say that Black convincingly demonstrates that Roosevelt largely prophesied the world as it evolved during and after the War, and in doing so laid the foundations for the world that we know today wherein the likelihood of another World War is almost inconceivable. All good people of the world owe Franklin Roosevelt a huge debt of gratitude and Black's magnificent tome is worthy reminder of that fact.
It is a reminder too in this less certain age that the world also owes a debt of gratitude to America for creating such a man and placing its trust in him to lead it out of the Depression and then to lead the rest of humanity out of the clutches of barbarism. I am not an American, nor have I been a great admirer of America in recent years, but this book reminds me how great that country was, and how great it can (and must) be again.
Conrad Black is to be congratulated on a most inspired and inspiring book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Champion of Freedom, 11 July 2004
By 
Jan Wammen Dam "euro1999" (Greve, Denmark) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom (Hardcover)
Conrad Black's book is an excellent biography, which rank among the best political biographies ever such as Duff Coopers wonderful book "Talleyrand" and Geoffrey Best great and commendable short book "Churchill. A Study in Greatness". Black's book is on the contrary very long, but it is highly accessible and he all along gives you great syntheses of his thinking such as "Roosevelt's strategic and political vision was perceptive; Stalin's was exclusively avaricious; Churchill's was astute but nostalgic" (p. 871). It is hard not to agree with Churchill (and Black) that Roosevelt was "the greatest champion of freedom who has ever brought help from the New World to the Old". But I can't agree with Black's wholehearted support of the American strategic view of the European theatre of operations. Michael Howard's conclusion - as stated by John Strawson in his new book "If by Chance" - "that it still needs to be shown that there was a better Allied Grand Strategy than that actually employed stands unchallenged today". The Mediterranean focus in 1943 was an absolute prerequisite for an invasion of France in 1944. Eisenhower should also have adhered to his statement on 15 September 1944. "There is no doubt whatsoever, in my mind, that we should concentrate on a rapid thrust to Berlin". It would have improved the allied bargaining position much more than anything else which Black mention about Roosevelt's idea's had he not died. At least it would have helped the ordinary woman in Berlin. A few spelling mistakes should be corrected in a new edition. Petsamo was not ceded by Finland to USSR in 1940 but in 1947. Rumania went into the First World War in 1916 and not 1915, and the place of Hitler's headquarters was close to Rastenburg and not Rastenberg. In conclusion, I agree with Churchill that he was the greatest American champion of Freedom as you can deduce from the context of Churchill's statement, but not with Black that he was the greatest champion of freedom at all in the Second World War. That was Mr Churchill himself. It was he who decided in the "Five Days in London May 1940" that Britain would carry on the struggle against Hitler. In these crucial days Roosevelt was more focused on the upcoming American presidential election than anything else. Actually, Hitler did more to help Churchill to survive than Roosevelt at that time by letting the BEF escape from Dunkirk by ordering his panzers to stop before Dunkirk.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Study of a Great Man in Tough Times: FDR, 22 April 2004
By A Customer
In Time Magazine's "The Time 100 - the Most Important People of theCentury," Franklin Delano Roosevelt is ranked the runner-up to AlbertEinstein. Roosevelt is a giant of world history.
To understand this, one must look at the world when he took office (theGreat Depression and the rise of fanatic totalitarianism leading to WorldWar II) and then the world after (a great period of economic stability,prosperity and no WW III). He influenced the modern world more than almostanyone else. The things we take for granted today were not necessarily socertain before he came to power.
Our world is not a world of Hitler's Third Reich and fascism. It is not aworld of Stalin and communism. It is not a world of colonial empires. Itis not a world of radical laissez-faire capitalism with its extremeinstability and injustices. It is more a world of Roosevelt's pragmaticideas for a more stable and fair economy, and international security andstability.
It is unfortunate that some irrational people from the extreme-right donot try to understand Roosevelt and instead attack FDR untruthfully - lies- for radical partisan reasons. They take his presidency out of context ofthe problems he was dealing with - the withering of capitalism anddemocracy around the world. The truth is that Roosevelt was a great worldleader, and it is refreshing that several notable conservatives havepraised this fine book.
On the back cover of the book are these comments by conservativeintellectuals I generally admire:
George F. Will: "Conrad Black skillfully assembles powerful arguments tosupport strong and sometimes surprising judgements. This spirited defenseof Roosevelt as a savior of America's enterprise system, and geopoliticalrealist, is a delight to read."
John Lukacs: "Conrad Black's FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT is extraordinary.It is something different from the dim and flickering lamp of academicretrospect. A new - and generous - light is poured on its subject: anillumination directed by a conviction of Roosevelt's place in history ofan entire century."
William F. Buckley Jr.: "An enormous accomplishment, a learned volume onFDR by a vital critical mind, which will absorb critics and the readingpublic."
Henry Kissinger: "No Biography of Roosevelt is more thoughtful andreadable. None is as comprehensive."
Finally, I would like to add that Conrad Black's writing style is veryinteresting to read. He adds life to the words with his own colorfuldescriptors, and he tries to present a picture of how Roosevelt viewsthings. For example, I chuckled when Black says that FDR correctly judgedHitler to be the real concern while Mussolini was, in comparison, abuffoon.
My own criticism of the book is that it skips over the human suffering ofthe period too much. Yes, Black shows some of the astounding numbers thatdetail how bad the crisis was, but much is missed.
Including the rise of totalitarian repression around the world in themidst of the depression, the decades of the 1930's and early 1940's werepossibly the darkest in world history. Almost 100 million people died.
Read this book and you will get to know and appreciate President FranklinDelano Roosevelt.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roosevelt: Champion of freedom, 8 Dec 2003
By 
Glen M Darlow (Andernach, Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom (Hardcover)
This is a long awaited biography on one of the great statesmen of the last century. As a History teacher at secondary level, I find the chapters on the second world war really useful and a good read. I kept going back to the chapters on world war two as they are so well written. I'm writing this review on the 62nd anniversary of Pearl Harbour and what struck me most about the chapter entitled : "We shall never cease...until they have been taught a lesson they and the world will never forget," is the suspense leading up to the attack. There is a description of the decryption and the fact the Roosevelt saw the strategic cleverness of "awaiting events".
Every chapter starts with a well known quote which focuses the reader onto a particular moment in history. The discussions about when and where to start the "second front" starts with a quote from Stalin: "Why are you so afraid of the Germans ?"
There are no surprises that the book shows a warm relationship between the former US warime leader and Churchill, but there are a few surprises awaiting you regarding Roosevelt's relationships with other people !
I have to confess that I skipped some of the early stuff, something to read later maybe. Frankly, the reader is spoilt for choice here. I cannot read it like a novel; I often jump to the exciting parts of the New Deal and unexpected problems associated with it ; WW2 etc.
The writer doesn't pull punches. He tells us that Roosevelt was a poor lawyer who , at best , was half-hearted, but he was a prolific reader and put him in good stead for the correspondence he had to do later in public life.
I recommend this book to teachers, students studying A level Modern History as well as undergraduates. There is far too much for Key Stage 4 students. Anybody who wants to learn about the real Roosevelt, warts and all, as well as find out more about Twentieth Century history ought to invest in this great book.
A great deal has gone into writing this book about a man who brought us all a new deal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What you can learn from a Great Leader, 8 Jun 2009
By 
laurens van den muyzenberg "laurens" (Villa Lama, Super Cannes, 06220 Vallauris Golfe-Juan.) - See all my reviews
No leader has had more positive influence in the 20th century than Franklin D Roosevelt.
This book of 1280 pages shows you what he did, why he did what he did, and why it worked. The book presents to you the reality. Not everything FDR did was good and or successful like for example his attempt to change the membership of the Supreme Court.

The immense detail in his book gives you the feeling of really understanding FDR. Reading this book gives you a clear picture of the differences between leading a country and leading an, even very large, business. One important difference is the dependence of a leader of government to maintain the support of the majority of the citizens of a country.

An excellent example is the way FDR was able lead American opinion to accept the necessity of the United States to take the lead in defeating German Nazism and Japanese Imperialism. The overwhelming opinion, when FDR became president was that the USA should not get involved in European quarrels. FDR realized this in 1933 but waited until the Japanese attacked the US before asking congress to approve a declaration of war. But, by that time FDR had already organized a tremendous build up of armaments, saved the UK from defeat and supported the Soviet Union with arms.

This example shows how a great leader of a country was able to influence public opinion, facing head on the competition for that opinion by powerful political and ideological leaders violently opposed to his policies, like John L. Lewis, President of the United Mine Workers Union from the political Left and Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator, on the political Right.

Reading the book you realize the moral dilemmas a great leader has to face. If you tell the truth about of what should be done too early, you will loose the election. And you will be unable to reach the goals to which you are committed. The dilemma is to force yourself to subordinate straightforwardness to what feels like manipulation.

Equally interesting is how FDR dealt with the depression when appointed. It is frightening to read that several of the causes of the depression in 1933 were the same as in 2008/2009. Are we unable to learn? Do we have incompetent leaders?

The book again describes the reality of getting out of the depression. Some measures FDR installed were good others were not. FDR was a "learning" president. He wanted short term to get out of the depression and long term that the United States would become a more equitable society but did not know exactly how to achieve it. He therefore experimented and monitored the outcome. If it did not work he tried something else. He always had a clear objective, and talked to many people with different and conflicting views about what should be done. On several occasions FDR had the courage made decisions different from those recommended by his cabinet members that turned out to be right.

FDR also succeeded several times in achieving support of both parties. A simple method was to include prominent Republicans in the cabinet like Henry L. Stimson who was secretary of State in the Republican Cabinet of H. Hoover, 1929 to 1933 and Secretary of War in the FDR Democratic cabinet 1940 to 1945.

FDR is a good example of a leader that never gave up. FDR was a cripple but he accomplished more than any other US President except Abraham Lincoln.
You become inspired by what a good leader can accomplish and learn a lot.
The Leader's Way: Business, Buddhism and Happiness in an Interconnected World
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 25 April 2011
By 
This book was a truly brilliant account of one of the most important men of the twentieth century. At over one thousand pages, the level of detail was extraordinary, and I have the utmost respect for the author, who has completed to a high standard what must have seemed an immense challenge when started.

I found that occasional sections of the book were somewhat 'dry' (which is perhaps inevitable when giving an account of a person's life in such detail), but these sections were very scarce, and on the whole the flowing writing style made the masses of information highly accessible and enjoyable.

In books such as these it can be easy to get confused with all the names of people and places that featured in FDR's life, but I found that Black introduces them and explains their roles very efficiently, and following these 'characters' (alongside FDR himself) adds a lot to the value of the book. I was equally impressed with the way the writer addresses his subject's flaws, rather than just ignoring them for the purposes of his own argument.

The sheer size of the book is somewhat intimidating before starting, but I can honestly say that reading it was an extremely rewarding experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough book, 28 Feb 2014
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I would highly recommend this book.

It is a long read but gives the reader a real feel for global politics both in the immediate run up to the second world war and during the depression.

The author does not become over focused on FDR only but paints a good picture of how other key players such as Churchill, Marshall, MacArthur etc. interacted with this giant politician.

One is left with the feeling that the world is a better place for FDR being the American president but at the same time the author casts an honest light on his many shortcomings. However, his weaknesses and poor decisions are always well contextualised around the information FDR had available to him at the time and the culture of the day.

Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A tour-de-force, 30 Jan 2014
By 
Robert Craven "Robert Craven" (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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FDRCF, is a wonderful read; at times inspiring in the eloquence of Roosevelt’s overcoming the many problems that beset him in life, but also unafraid in portraying his human weaknesses. Where Black excels is his gradual, but clear development of the twelve years where Roosevelt, ably assisted by astute appointments takes America from the brink of collapse to the world’s superpower.

Where I think Black is let down is by his unbridled admiration of Churchill, no doubt the man of the hour in the face of Nazism in Europe, but glosses over at times, the old imperialist agenda he tried to impose along with the poor tactical decisions he insisted on.

That aside, this is an incredible read, incisive, at times witty in the footnotes (notably Mountbatten’s demonstration of an aircraft carrier made of ice being indestructable using his side arm in Quebec) and in control of the many threads from so big a character who lived his life to the full.

The morass of the 1930’s, appeasement, war and invasion, notably the treatment of Czechoslovakia by her neighbours, who in turn fell under the panzers, reads like a thriller and even weighing in at a hefty 1193 pages, FDRCF is a compelling read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Biography of One of the most Influential Presidents, 11 July 2013
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FDR- Champion of Freedom by Conrad Black is a very good biography of the one and only four-term President of the United States. This is a work about FDR in the round, it is both an examination of his private life and his public career, and even though it is obvious that the author is sympathetic towards his subject he is not afraid to be critical and pass judgement on some of Roosevelt's decisions and actions. It is well-written, informative and opinionated, and although it is of a considerable length it is well worth the effort. All in all a very good book about the President who defined American politics for a generation and played a pivotal role in saving the world from tyranny.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Heavy Weight in Every Respect, 6 Dec 2011
By 
A. Perry (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a big book in every respect, and gives a thorough and balanced assessment of the man who was, arguably, the greatest of the American Presidents. Equally welcome is the light it shines on his formidable wife, Eleanor Roosevelt. Together, they took the United States from the depths of the Depression to the heights of world power. Understanding the ways that was actually achieved remains relevant to our current circumstances. I would have rated it with 5 Stars, but it is the sort of book that needs to be consumed bite-by-bite. I for one could not manage it at one sitting!
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Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom
Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom by Conrad Black (Hardcover - 17 Nov 2003)
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