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Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  2,668 ratings  ·  220 reviews

The most complete portrait ever drawn of the complex emotional connection between two of history’s towering leaders

Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were the greatest leaders of “the Greatest Generation.” In Franklin and Winston, Jon Meacham explores the fascinating relationship between the two men who piloted the free world to victory in W
Paperback, 490 pages
Published October 12th 2004 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
”There are memorials to Roosevelt and Churchill just inside the West Door of Westminster Abbey. The first, a gray tablet that hangs far below a window depicting Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve tribes of Israel, reads: TO THE HONORED MEMORY OF FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, A FAITHFUL FRIEND OF FREEDOM AND OF BRITAIN. Nearby, a large, dark green marble slab lies on the floor of the great nave, its inscription simple but profound: REMEMBER WINSTON CHURCHILL. On sunny days in London, light slips ...more
Meacham does a fine job dissecting the personal and political friendship of perhaps the two most important figures in the 20th century. While neither man was perfect, each must be given his due for what he accomplished for his country as well as for the world in a time of mass upheaval and danger. Students of history should acknowledge that, as Churchill & England stood on the precipice of disaster and defeat at the hands of Hitler, America watched from the sidelines, content and happy in it ...more
William Blair
Continuing my attack on recent (well, this one is 2003) books covering the events and personalities of World War II, this very entertaining book by Jon Meacham (the editor of Newsweek, whom you have no doubt seen on Charlie Rose's PBS television show) adds itself to the list of those with new and interesting information because of recently declassified (or recently disclosed personal) documents. The (obvious) angle with this book is the intense personal relationship that developed between these ...more
CV Rick
I know a lot of people liked this book, but I found it lacking in many areas. For one the narrative is repetitious to the point of tedium. Over and over again we are told, rather than shown, that these two men, Franklin and Churchill admire and respect each other but that every element of this partnership is tinged with self-interest, or in their case the interest of their respective nations.

The books starts by jumping around through time and the author seems to be taking clippings from various
This book is an intimate description of a facinating relationship between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill and their personal and political relationship prior to and during World War II. It is intimate because nuch of the new material comes from diaries, correspondence and material unavailable previously. The book is almost a day to day account of their experiences during the war. It exposes both the best and worst qualities of each man including cigars, alcohol and some intimate friends ...more
Mar 04, 2012 Kristopher rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kristopher by: Valerie Loveland
The focus is on the friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill which was at times difficult and strained. I already knew a lot more about Churchill than I did Roosevelt, and saw Churchill as a greater figure than Roosevelt. I know that FDR did great things for my own country, and that he was a great figure of the 20th century, but Churchill was just a much more likable character. The book helped me understand that Churchill had a deep-seated need to be liked due to his upbringin ...more
Why one more book about Winston Churchill or Franklin Delano Roosevelt? There are so many published, so many quoted and well-read. Manchester's "The Last Lion" started me on a lifetime fascination with Mr. Churchill. Amateur American historians all have read "No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor" by Doris Kearns Goodwin and delighted in Goodwin's excellent writing and lovely personal tidbits about the couple who shaped America and the world during World War Two.

So why this delightful little re
Erin Rogers
A really unique book! Jon Meacham brings to life the friendship between two of the greatest men of their time: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. While Meacham stresses that his book is not a history book but rather a look at the relationship between the President and Prime Minister, one can't help but absorb the historical events surrounding the letters and meetings of these two men. Such a tumultuous time in history required the leadership of larger-than-life personalities, and t ...more
As far as Meacham's books go, this one falls squarely in the middle. I absolutely loved American Lion but wasn't terribly fond of The Art of Power. Meacham promises "an intimate portrait of an epic friendship" and certainly delivers that throughout the course of this book in a very readable way.

My boss bought and loaned me this book after I got her to read American Lion, and we both read through the first 100 pages very quickly. After Churchill and Roosevelt's initial (surprisingly) disagreeable
f the 'Special Relationship' has ever existed and been anything more than a product of the wishful thinking of British Prime Ministers, it was forged in the years of the Second World War, as a result of the relationship between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. I doubt our two countries have ever been closer - politically, military and personally as well.

This book charts the evolution of the real bonds of affection between Churchill and FDR, bonds which were often strained by politica
Both my husband and I enjoyed this book. We think we know all there is to know about an historical figure and then a book like this comes along and gives us more insight into a character. Churchill's War Rooms are calling!
I enjoyed Meacham's book and once again was struck with the notion that the western world lay in the balance and but for the intervention of the U.S. in WWII, things might have been different. It is always more interesting to read history when portrayed through personalities and both Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt were bigger than life. It also struck me again how different the world was in the 1940's in terms of the power of the President and influence of the Prime Minister and how di ...more
I like Meacham's biographies. I think this one didn't grab me as much, because of the split focus. By its very structure, the book winds up being somewhat of a "compare and contrast" discussion. So, rather than considering each man on his own history/personality/merits, there is more of a comparison. To me, this is weaker, because I found myself always deciding which man I liked better or thought was handling the situation better - and there seemed to be less thought given to the particular fact ...more
As Meacham himself says in his Introduction, millions of words have been written about FDR and WS Churchill--what need another? But this book focuses tightly, nearly exclusively, on the relationship, both personal and political, between these two titans. From that perspective, the author found new and illuminating ground to cover, and it is a valuable story gracefully told.

"There are memorials to Roosevelt and Churchill just inside the West Door of Westminster Abbey. The first, a gray tablet tha
A very enjoyable book written by a Pulitzer Prize award winner. This explores the relationship – both professional and personal – between the two most important leaders of the twentieth century, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. This is not a full biography of either man, nor is it a history of WWII. While you will get elements of both in this book, the sole focus is their relationship.

Making heavy use of primary sources, including newly analyzed diaries of Lucy Mercer Rutherford and
Robert Hill
What the prose of Jon Meacham lacks in beauty, it makes up for in the scholarship of his research. One of Roosevelt's inaugurals early in his presidency speaks of issues which resonate today. He spoke of the basic rights of all peoples in the world, among them the right to worship as one chooses and the right of worker's to fair wages. Roosevelt's last speech written just days before his death was about ushering in the age of the atomic bomb. Roosevelt spoke of the need to exercise a science of ...more
John Gronner
I was fascinated by the power and vision that the 2 men had that shaped the world during and after WWII. It appears that F&W fashioned the United Nations practically single-handedly into what it is today. Both were visionaries but
Franklin more so. C was so right in his misgivings of Stalin and they turned out to be true.

The look into their private side was also revealing.

If you like history and want a glimpse of WWII read this book.

J.M. Slowik
I have to be fair. I've been reading a lot of excellent non-fiction, and this is just the latest example. Yet I keep giving out five star reviews, which might suggest I'm being less than strictly critical. But regardless of the sequence, or the consecutive love-letter quality of my reviews lately, this one is amazing.

It is exactly what its title reports: a study of the friendship between FDR and WSC. Though 'study' might make it sound academic, when in fact this is accessible to and aimed at gen
This book charts the relationship between FDR and Winston Churchill and uses this as the base from which to discuss the various World War II conferences. It certainly adds a helpful light on these conferences, sometimes being very tough on FDR with his treatment of Churchill toward the end of the war when our goals started to shift into different directions.
Kathleen Rybacki
A wonderful book. I loved it (obviously). I love history & politics, so I was drawn to this & was rewarded. Meacham's research was so thorough that he made these historical giants human & they came alive for me. Reading this made me wish my parents were alive to discuss the war with me & it's affect on their lives. I will probably read it again some day.
The Book Maven
If you pick up this book looking for a tome on military history, I have to tell you that you'll be disappointed. However, if you come around for a book that takes an entirely human angle in its approach to FDR and WSC, you'll be very well-pleased.

A deep look at the lives of these leaders this book is not; rather--as I am sure you can gather from the title--it focuses on one particular element and time in these men's lives: when together they worked to defeat the Axis Powers, and forged a remark
Jeni Enjaian
I loved this book. It was absolutely fascinating. Meacham expertly split his narrative between Franklin and Winston, a task that's not easy to do. It made me more than eager to read the Last Lion. (I'm currently on the reserve list at the library for two of the three volumes.) I would love to be able to write a better review but I have only one thing left in my notes. (That's what I get for not writing the reviews right away.) I finished the book with the thought of just how striking the connect ...more
But wait…If you like U.S. history and especially World War II history and want to get an inside view of the relationship between these two giants, you will love this book. Neither is really my “cup of tea,” as you know if you follow my reviews.

The insights I enjoyed most, however, dealt with FDR and his relationships with women other than Eleanor, especially Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd who exchanged love letters with FDR. Those have now surfaced. Her husband was much older. They had one child togethe
I found I enjoyed Jon Meacham's Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship more than I did his American Lion: A Biography of President Andrew Jackson, though this may be due to either a better abridgment or my own sentiments on the subjects of this book, as I have more of a personal fondness for Churchill and FDR than I do Old Hickory.

That said, this book is not without flaws. While the audio reading covers all of their experiences and their friendship during the World War
Jon Meacham presents an interesting portrait of two leaders in World War II and the way they united the allies. This book is not meant to serve as a book on World War II and diplomacy but on the relationship between FDR and Churchill. In doing so the author presents a unique perspective that has not been looked at in many of the countless World War II books. The personal relationship of these two men (much like the personal relationship of their enemies Mussolini and Hitler) drove and shaped the ...more
Greg Pettit
The book's title is very accurate: this is not so much a history book, but rather a very specific look at the friendship between Roosevelt and Churchill.

It was a very entertaining read, nonetheless. The author clearly had strong opinions about the character of the two men, so many stories seem selected to support that opinion. Meacham paints FDR as the aloof, popular kid and Churchill as the always-trying-to-be-accepted not-so cool kid. Of course there are degrees to both of those characterizati
Dense and intricate, Franklin and Winston is a masterful expose into the relationship among two powerful men in a time of valor, war and danger. In the throes of the violent WWII, Winston and Franklin are two undivided friends that must stand tall in face of the enemy, while commanding their countries. Meacham presents all of this in the utmost detail, from primary source quotations to intricate metaphors between the two men. However, Franklin and Winston should not be read as a history novel (t ...more
When Roosevelt and Churchill first met early in their careers, they did not like each other. They came from completely different backgrounds. However, when they are thrown together again as the powerful leaders of the United States and Britain during the early days of World War II, a deep friendship develops. As Meacham points out, however, it is usually Churchill who is the suitor and Franklin who plays hard-to-get, partly because Churchill has to beg the U.S. for aid for so long before the U.S ...more
The last paragraph of Franklin and Winston by Jon Meacham:

There are memorials to Roosevelt and Churchill just inside the West Door of Westminster Abbey. The first, a gray tablet that hangs far below a window depicting Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve tribes of Israel, reads: TO THE HONORED MEMORY OF FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, A FAITHFUL FRIEND OF FREEDOM AND OF BRITAIN. Nearby, a large, dark green marble slab lies on the floor of the great nave, its inscription simple but profound: REMEMBER
Nov 25, 2008 Shair rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone, but especially those interested in American history
Recommended to Shair by: My Dad
At long last! I finally finished this wonderful book. A week or so ago, I received a notice from Goodreads, "You started reading this book 219 days ago." Yeah, yeah. Thanks, Goodreads. For the record, the fact that it took me well over 200 days to read it is not a reflection on the quality or the level of difficulty of this book. It's easy to read, as far as historical texts go, and it's a pleasure. I read it in bits for the better part of '08 whenever I was in between readings for class or for ...more
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Jon Meacham is the editor of Newsweek, a Pulitzer Prize winning bestselling author and a commentator on politics, history, and religious faith in America.
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“In the closed circle of the war cabinet, pounded by terrible report after terrible report, there had been uncertainty about whether he could fend off the drift to exploring a deal with Hitler. The determination of the larger group trumped the tentativeness of the smaller, and Churchill fulfilled his role as leader by disentangling himself from defeatism--one of his singular achievements at the end of May 1940.” 1 likes
“The service--a moved Roosevelt called it the "keynote" of his meeting with Churchill--was working a kind of magic, which is one of the points of liturgy and theater: to use the dramatic to convince people of a reality they cannot see.” 1 likes
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